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Otker Works by Mr, EDMUND GOSSE 


On Viol and Flute. New edition, i8go 

Kirdausi in Exile^ and other Poems, Second edition, i88y 


Northern Studies, l8jg. Popular edition, x8go 

Life of Gray. 1882, Revised edition. i88g 

Seventeenth Century Studies. l88j. Second edition. 188^ 

Life of Congreve, 1888 

ji History of Eighteenth Century Literature, i88g. Second 

edition, i8gi 
Life of Philip Henry Gosse, F.R.S, i8go 

Gossip in a Library. i8gi. Second edition, i8g2 

The Secret of Narcisse. A Romance. i8g2 

Sluestions at Issue. l8g^ 










It was recently discovered that a ** remainder ** of 2^0 unbound 

copies of the tragedy of^^ King Erik^" tvhich originally appeared 

at Christmas^ ^^7$ (Chatto and WinduSy 1^6) ^ %uas in exist' 

ence, jis the book in its original form has become rare^ it has 

been thought that the re-issue of these copies %vould present a 

certain interest. In order ^ however^ to give a special character 

to this limited publication^ there has been prefixed to it^ by the 

author's kind permission^ the lengthy review of ** KJPK •^'''^j** 

by Mr, Theodore JVatts, which appeared in the ** Examiner ** 

for February jr, i8y6, A peculiar value attaches to this essay^ 

in that it was Mr. JVatts^s earliest contribution to the periodical 



Mr. Tennyson's Queen Mary has revived the question* 
which at one time was thought to be settled for ever 
— ^Will poetic drama ever again have real vitality upon 
the English stage? At the end of the sixteenth 
century the greatest poet and the greatest play-wright 
was the joint-manager of the Globe Theatre, William 
Shakespeare. Now, with the single exception, perhaps,- 
of Dr. Marston, our poets are not playwrights, and 
our playwrights are not poets. We do not say this- 
disparagingly towards either — certainly not towards the 
playwrights — for to produce a good acting play, however 
devoid of what is called poetry, is to achieve something 
that is well worth achieving. Nay, there can be no really 
good acting play that is not rich in one kind of poetry — 
the poetry of situation. Nevertheless, it is a portentous- 
fact that, throughout the entire field of literary activity 
there are no two men so exactly the opposites of each 
other as the typical poet (such a man, say, as the late 
Sydney Dobell), and the typical playwright (such a man, 
say, as Mr. Blank). 

But in Shakespeare's time Dobell (the author oi Balder y 




xii Introductory Essay. 

say, and how they say it, not of what they do. The 
consequence is, that his dialogue, which should be 
struck from the action like sparks from the trotting 
roadster's shoes, consists of lyrics in blank verse. After 
the true revolution has been reached, he does not, as the 
playwright does, hear in his mind the ominous rustliog 
of shawls, the dreadful click of the opera-glasses as they 
close in the stalls, but he goes on for two mortal acts 
more, and, very likely, removes the scene of action to 
the other side of the world — having, in his innocent 
ignorance of his doom, of the " deep damnation " that 
awaits him, no thought of those stalls where soon not 
one white tie, not one white shoulder, will be seen to 
shelter him from the hisses of the dreadful pit. 

Now, we do not mean that Mr. Gosse sins in all or 
half of the respects we have mentioned. But, most 
emphatically, he belongs to the poets, and not to the 
playwrights, and would be in dangerous case if arraigned 
before the gods above and the demons below. ' He has 
produced a work which, however symmetrical as a work 
of literary art (and symmetrical and very beautiful it 
is), would have to be shorn of many of its poetical 
beams before it would be looked at by any manager in 
London. For instance, this agent of Nemesis is not even 
heard of till the fourth act. And then he has no character. 
He is simply the agent of Nemesis. Yet, shadowy and 
insignificant as his personality is, and although, as a 
matter of fact, the real reason why the scene of action 
is removed to the East is the perfectly good one that 
the play should follow the Saga, the apparent reason — 

Introductory Essay. xiii 

and that is the important matter — is that Erik should 
meet with this shadowy personage there, and be killed 
there by him. Therefore, the most important character, 
as he appears when we reach the fourth act, is no 
character at all but an abstraction. Here we have 
a case, like many another of late, where the very excess 
of conscience spoils the work. 

The true poet — and Mr. Gosse is a true poet, feeling the 
high mission of his art — cannot, dare not, travesty history. 
To him, truth is the highest poetry. This is why the poet, 
if he writes for the stage, will soon be driven altogether 
from history for dramatic purposes — will soon have to go, 
in every case, to those elemental sources whence History 
herself must go to draw the incidents — pathetic, beautiful, 
or sublime — which she offers. This is why the poet, having 
fallen upon days when strong situations and artificial com- 
pression of striking incidents are indispensable in acted 
drama, will soon have to leave history to the historian, 
and invent his own story and incidents for himself. The 
time having gone by, in short, when, if we want a sea- 
coast for Bohemia, we can give her one, we shall, in 
future, have always to invent our sea-coasted country for 
ourselves, and christen it with some other name than 
Bohemia. The poet says, ' I cannot swerve from truth.' 
The theatrical manager says, *I must have situations 
rapidly evolving situations, till a climax is reached, and 
then a sudden end, never mind what may become of 
your historical truth. Amusement, and not historical 
accuracy, is what I have to supply to the public' 

Both are right — all are right, manager, playwright. 

xiv Introductory Essay, 

and poet. Yet, till they are all reconciled, how can 
acted poetic drama ever live again ? " Situation " — that is 
the name of the genius — the evil genius, if you will — 
who has worked all this change. The Elizabethans 
knew no such word. Their characters would walk off, 
at the end of a scene or an act, as quietly as they walked 
on. A poet cannot, he will tell you, write for " situa- 
tions." And, as a rule, he must break the unities. Often 
one enormous advantage results from his doing this, 
however. It gives the dramatist, as here in King 
Erik, an opportunity of showing the growth of a 
character. This, indeed, is the great triumph of Mr. 
Gosse's play, the development of the character of Botilda. 
Not often has the dramatist such an opportunity as this 
play affords, and if he had he would rarely have the 
required endowments to make good use of it, especially 
if the character to be developed is a woman's. For what 
are called women in dramas are often very sorry women 
indeed, depending for their feminine traits greatly upon 
their petticoats. Shakespeare's are an exception, of 
course. But even his women, compare them with the 
men ! 

Most women have no characters at all, 

says l^ope. And that is true. No characters they have, 
when seen from the point of view of the satirist, or the 
rouL But from another point of view, that of Charlotte 
Bronte, say, or George Eliot, they seem to have 
characters, something at least that might without 
offence to our own sex be called characters. The 
character of Botilda is, for a man's woman, a great and 

Tntroductory Essay. xv 

most remarkable success, though here and there no doubt 
there may be traces of an uncertain hand in the delinea- 
tion. It is a long time since anything so tender, so 
pathetic, and so true has been given to us in dramatic 
poetry ; and whatever may be Mr. Gosse's shortcomings 
as a playwright, we now know the kind of beautiful work 
we have to expect from him. 

During Erik's absence on the seas Botilda has had but 
one thought, but one longing — the return of her husband. 
Het soul is starving for him — literally that Everything 
recalls him. She cannot talk to her maids about a piece 
of embroidery without bringing in hi*s name at the end of 
every sentence. Some women's love is a cultus as well as 
a passion. Botilda is one of these. At last Erik comes. 
At last she is clasped in his arms, weeping. Aiui now, if 
this woman were told, as she lies there, that she must 
burn at the stake for him, 

Bum to save him from some peril, 

she would shed tears perhaps, but they would be tears of 
joy. For there is no such bliss for such as she as that of 
self-immolation for the man they love. But she has a 
religious duty to perform. She had, on the night Erik 
sailed away to fight the Wends, gone to the Cathedral at 
Odense ; and, at the shrine of Knud, made a vow that if 
she ever saw his face again she would 

wend on foot, 
And pay her offerings at the blessed shiine. 

She Starts on this mission at early morning in the coli 
But in the market of Roeskild she unexpectedly comes 

xvi Introductory Essay, 

upon Erik and his bodyguard. This is the greeting she 
gets : — 

BOTILDA. I am glad to see you ere I go ! 

Erik. Go where ? 

BoT. I thought, before your work was done, 
We should be home again ! 

Erik. Be home again ? 

Where are you bound, Botilda ? 

BoT. To the shrine 

Of Knud, your brother ! When you sailed away 
To fight the Wends, I went that very night, 
And all the priests before my. face read mass, 
And broke the blessed wafer ; there I vowed. 
At night, in the cathedral, Erik, think ! 
That if I ever saw your face again, 
Bending above me, I would wend on foot 
And pay my offerings at the blessed shrine. 

Erik. At Odense? 

BOT. Are not you glad I prayed ? 

My vows have brought you back ! 

Erik. Yea ! brought me back 

Too early or too late, methinks. 

BOT. What, love? 

You ought to take my hand in yours, and bless 
My journey with a kiss. I do not care 
For all those folk around us ! Dear, those eyes 
Looked kinder when I bid you last farewell ! 
But you will let me go ! 

Erik. To Odense? 

BoT. For women always ought to pay their vonn s. 
« ♦ ' ♦ « « 

Laugh, Erik, or your eyes will frighten mine. 
Dear love, why do you look so strange at me ? 
Will you not let me go to Odense ? 

Erik. No, by my God, I will not ! 

BoT. Erik, why? 

Erik. No matter, but I will not ! Get you hom^ I 

Introductory Essay. xvii 

At present, however, she knows not what her trouble 
means. She only knows that it has broken her heart 

Soon follows the death of the contemptible Grimur. 

Now the truth comes upon her. Erik has suspected 
her of falsity to him. All that infinite wealth of love, 
then, had been misunderstood, misprised by him. She 
knows that he has been cruelly and treacherously deceived. 
But what of that ? There is no comfort there. If a troop 
of angels had come from Heaven and sworn to her falsity 
— her falsity to him — he, the Erik she had been worship- 
ping, would, as his kisses closed upon her mouth, have 
laughed them out of court, knowing they were perjured. 
For neither angels nor God himself can make possible 
the impossible. But now the sacred bond that some- 
times binds soul to soul is broken for ever. 

Erik now finds, from the confession of his mother, that 
he has cruelly wronged, his wife, and wrongly killed a 
manikin verse-monger, who, though his whole body's 
blood be not worth the stain it left upon a hero's sword, 
was nevertheless innocent, save of a little foolish rhyming 
about erotic mischief which, then as now, saved many a 
puberal poet from doing the mischief the unsinging 
puberals do. 

Burdened and yet blessed with this knowledge, he 
meets Botilda, or rather he meets one that was Botilda. 
(For here comes the fine part of the play, to which we 
would call attention.) Her life has been cut in twain, 
as though by the blow of his sword. She who was so 
strong for loving that for everything else she could not 
but be weak, is so no longer. Sorrow has developed her 

xviii Introductory Essay. 

into a heroine all at once And Erik is startled at what 
he iinds, as well he may be. 

BOT. You should fall 

There, on the pavement, on your knees, to beg* 
. Pardon for your gross anger ; men have thoughts 
So foul a woman cannot feel them stir 
And not shriek out and rave. And now I leave you — 

[BOTILDA hastily goes, but is arrested by Erik. 

Erik. Botilda, stay ! 

BoT. Why should I? 

Erik. Go not yet ! 

Listen, before you break my heart ! Oh, love ! 
1 swear I know that you are as clear as light, 
Pure as the sea, fresh as new-fallen snow, 
The only perfect thing that God has made, 
The earthly image of a saint— 

BoT. You thought 

That I was base enough— O God, O God ! 

Erik. Forgive me that I thought at all ! poor fool. 
Tricked by the beating of my jealous heart. 
Ah ! had I loved you less I had not been 
So mad, and to my own dishonour swift. 
Ah ! can you not forgive me ? 

BoT. Dear, I do ! 

But oh ! what sorrow you had spared us both, 
Had you been trustful. 

From this point to the end of the play she is the new 
Botilda ; loving Erik still, but with a heart that is very 
wise, having been sorely bruised. And when at last 
he dies in Cyprus with his hand locked in hers, her 
grief is great ; yet, coming after that unutterable misery 
she knew when she sank down in the market-place at 
Roeskild, it is a grief that may be borne. 

It is a beautiful story, beautifully told. And let it be 

Introductory Essay. xix 

remembered that there is nothing so difficult as to write a 
" jealousy-play." If the hero's jealousy is justifiable, then 
the heroine, being guilty, loses our sympathies — ^if un- 
justifiable, then the hero must be duped by the machina- 
tions of the villain, or by his being entangled in an 
extraordinary web of maleficent circumstances. But 
these machinations or these circumstances must be so 
transparent to the audience that there be no question 
as to the heroine's innocence, upon whom devolves 
most of the pathetic business. But then, again, if these 
machinations or circumstances are so transparent as this, 
the simplicity of the hero's character must be so unusual 
as to border on actual fatuity as it does in the Spanish 
comedies, and as it very nearly does with regard to Ford 
in The Merry Wives of Windsor^ and to Don Felix in 
the Wonder, Othello is only saved (and barely saved 
now and then) from losing our sympathies by his fatuity^ 
from his exactly answering our idea of that frank, almost 
child-like, simple-mindedness which we imagine to be the 
characteristic of the British soldier-hero (though very 
unlike the Italian notion qf a soldier in Cinthio's time). 
But then Othello has taken this place once and for ever ; 
while lago has equally monopolised the place of the 
designing villain. Consequently, the villain has had to 
change sex since Shakespeare's time, and becomes the 
mother-in-law, as in M. Dennery'sZ'-4/^w/i?, and in several 
of the comedies of Sardou and others, or the jealous 
mother or designing waiting-woman, as in the present 
play. To give us, therefore, a jealous hero who is not at 
all a fool and yet not at all Othello, induced by machina- 

XX Introductory Essay. 

tions to suspect a heroine who is nevertheless worthy of 
our sympathies, being innocent, is a thing that is worth 
doing ; and this Mr. Gosse, ,we think, has done. 

The blank verse is fluent and good. The variation of 
the pauses, however, is too frequently adjusted in 
reference to the initial foot of the line, as in so much of 
Mr. Tennyson's later blank verse, not in reference to the 
initial foot of the sequetice, as in Shakespeare's later 
verse. This gives an occasional monotony which would 
otherwise have been avoided. 

Feb. 1S76, 

.V.-* ■ 






%6 tVK- 






As young Greek athletes hung their Motive strigiis 

Within the temples of the Powers above; 
As lovers gave the lamp that lit their vigils 
Through sleepless hours of love; 

So I this lyric symbol of my labour^ 

This antique light that led my dreams so long^ 
This battered hull of a barbaric tabor ^ 
Beaten to runic song, 

Bear to thai shrine where your dear presence lingers , 
Where stands your Musis statue white as snow ; 
I take my poor gift in my trembling fingers ^ 
And hang it there and go. 

7%is very day one hundred years are over 

Since Landot^s godlike spirit came to earth* 
Surely the winter air laughed like a lover , 
The hour that gave him birth. 

Ah ! had he lived to hear our hearts emotion^ 

What lyric love had strewn his path to-day ! 
Yourself had sung; and Swinbumis rapt devotioft 
Had cleft its sunward way ; 

And /, too^ though unknown and unregarded^ 

Had thrown my violets where you threw your iaySy 
Had seen my garland^ also, not discarded^ 
Had gloried all my days ! 

But since the world his august spirit haunted 

Detains him here no more, but mourns him dead^ 
And other chaplets, in strange airs enchanted^ 
Girdle his sacred head, 

Take thou my smaU oblation, yea ! receive it ! 

Laid at thy feet, within thy shrine it stands / 
I brought it from my heart, and here I leave it, 
The work of reverent hands, 

January 30/^/1875, 



After King Knud died, his sons ruled Denmark one 
after another, but with little skill or fortune. Knud, the 
younger, slain in the church at Odeg^i^, was succeeded 
by Olaf, the most wretched of them sffl, and he by Erik, 
who was the wisest of men, and as lucky as his brothers 
were unfortunate. Under him Denmark flourished. 

Erik took to wife a German Princess, Botilda. Soon 
after her coming to Denmark the Wends harried the 
shores of the Baltic, and did great mischief. Where- 
upon Erik made a league with the King of Norway, and 
in three great sea-fights broke up their power. Coming 
back to Roeskild, he called his lords and freemen round 
him, and swore to them that henceforth he would live 
among them to preserve peace in the realm, and, above 
all, to punish with death any who should kill a Christian 
man untried. This he did to put an end to the dissen- 
sions among the people. But it happened that a skald, 
one Grimur, nursed in his breast a passion for the Queen, 
though she knew it not. And Erik, being told of this, 

viii Argument. 

in a sudden rage slew Grimur with his own hand, and 
disgraced the Queen. But, on his first coming to high 
mass, the Archbishop of Lund resolutely withstood him, 
saying that he had broken his own law in slaying a man 
untried j whereupon Erik, smitten with remorse, vowed 
to make pilgrimage to the Holy City, to heal this inward 
wound. Declaring this intention to the gathered Thing, 
the freemen threw themselves at his feet with tears, and 
prayed him to stay with them, but in vain. And, learn- 
ing that Botilda was innocent of any fault, his sorrow 
became a passion and drove him from the land. She 
went with him, having forgiven him, and they journeyed 
together to Micklegarth (Constantinople), where the 
Emperor Alexios received them with so much hospitality, 
that they were fain at last to fly away to Cyprus secretly, 
yet not before that one of the Emperor's body-guard, a 
Dane, and foster-brother to Grimur, bad heard how the 
skald was slain. This man followed Erik and Botilda to 
Cyprus, where he slew the King, just as he was about to 
embark for Palestine. Botilda took the body with her 
to the Holy Land, and died there. They lie buried side 
by side in a little valley at the foot of Olivet. 


Erik Eiegod, King of Denmark. 

Grimur, Skald. 

OssuR, Archbishop of Lund. 

Marcus, an old Councillor. 

Skjalm Hvide, Governor of Zealand. 

Thorolf, Leader of the Vaeringar. 

_ ' ( Two lords of Erik's following, 


Sigurd, the Herald. 
GiSLi, Grimur's foster-brother. 
Boy, serving Anna Comnena. 
The Leader of the Thing. 

Also soldiers, priests, boys, Vaeringar, etc. 

BoTiLDA, Queen of Denmark. 
Anna Comnena, Greek Princess. 
Adalbjorg, mother of King Erik. 

Svanhilda, ) ., . , , 

^ > Maids of Botilda s Court. 

Thora, ) 

Ladies of the Court. 

The action in the year 1103 a,d,^ first in Roeskild^ the 
capital of Denmark^ afterwards in Constantinople^ and 
finally in Cyprus. 





Scene I. 

Botiidds bower in Roeskild, Botilda with her embroidery- 
frame before her sits on a dais ; below her, working, sit 
SvANHiLDA and Thora. 


Draw the gold thread twice through the silken woof, 
And then your work is over. Ask the Queen 
What flower she will have woven for the hem. 

THORA (to botilda). 

Madam, what flower ? 


A lily worked in red. 


But, madam — 

2 King Erik, act I, 




The wedding-gown you brought 
From Germany was wrought with lilies too, 
Gold lilies, buds and blown ones, round the edge. 


And while we waited at the altar steps, 
To let the old Archbishop find the psalm. 
Did you not mark how in his strong red hands 
King Erik took the swept edge of my robe 
And through his fingers let the gold and white 
Glide in a little stream ? And afterwards 
He found a moment's idle space enough 
To praise the flowers, reminding me how first 
He saw me by the river-side at Mainz, 
A half-blown water-lily in my hair, i 
And so, since nothing ever slips his ken 
Of great or smsdl, perchance when I shall go 
And meet him on the margin of the fiord, 
'Twill please him that I wear the flowers again. 
Have you red silk enough ? 


This little skein, 
Will be enough for all I have to do. 


And will you that we sing above our work ? 

SCENE I, King Erik. 


Yes ! Any simple air I have not heard, 
Or any Danish ballad ! Nay ! Not now ! 
I cannot sit to hear you ! Let us talk ! 
How hot the air is ! How the hours are slow ! 
The summer days are long here in the north. 
I wonder when the ships — {breaks off), 


For these two months* 
Your patience and your cheerfulness have been 
So sweetly constant in their silent hope, 
That I am fain to marvel, if I may, 
That these last hours should find you so distrest. 


Oh ! not distrest, and yet not happy either ! 
I think to sleep the tiresome hours away, 
Yet waken very early ; think to school 
My fancy into dreams of other things. 
And ever more before the last hour comes 
I strain my hope, and thought, and wish, away, 
Lest at the last some unseen blow should fall. 
I dare not hope, now that the end draws near. 


I think he will not come ! 


Madam ! Not come ? 
Have you not heard the news ? 

BOTILDA. {smiling). 

What news ? 


4 King Erik, ACT I 

SVANHILDA (tiof noticing). 

A lad 
At nightfall yesterday, from Elsinore, 
Came galopping across the court, and cried \ 
That standing on the cape, above the Sound, 
He had seen the dragons of the King go by, 
Northward, with music at the prow, and sails 
Set in the south wind. 


Yea ! and said he not 
That foremost in the fleet he saw the King, 
And knew him, taller than the tallest there. 
And saw his gold helm flashing in the sun ? 


That is no news now ! Ere the words were said 
Old Marcus dragged him hither by the arm, 
I sitting here alone. The fellow came, 
Shamefaced to see me, waxing red and pleased. 
And pulling at the hair about his mouth \ 
I made him tell his story twice, and laughed, 
Because the stripling, seeing I grew glad. 
Would fain grow cunning, and had seen the King 
Do wonders in that moment. I broke off 
Some inches of the gold around my arm — 
The serpent, see, is shorter — gave it him. 
And bade him have a care of Roeskild mead ! 
I was so happy ! When the young man goes 

SCENE I. King Erik. 5 

Back to our faithful town of Elsinore 
He'll say, " The Queen is mad." 


The wind blows fair ; 
They lose much time in tacking up the fiord, 
Yet must they surely, ere the sun goes down, 
Moor at the harbour. * 


Surely after this 
The pirate Wends will scarcely dare again 
To push their black prows into Christian bays, 
And ravage field and homestead. Why ! last year 
When Erik and King Magnus Barefoot met 
Below the Gota River, Magnus said, 
" These Wendish devils only need a man 
As young, hardhanded, and as brisk as you 
To save our priests and people from this plague !" 
The wise old Northman said so ; thereupon 
The young king and the old king plighted troth 
And sailed against the heathen ; but this year 
Erik has gone alone to bum the hive 
And drown the hornets in the Middle Sea ; 
God speed him for his church's sake and mine. 


Well has he sped ! No thing he touches fails, 
His words are seed of wheat in fertile ground, 
His deeds are like the acts of warrior-saints, 
And all he does is fortunate. 

6 King Erik. ACT I. 


They say 
That all his fortune comes to him from God ; 
That like the knights, Ganore or Galahad, 
The old French priest was singing of, his strength 
Rests in himself, because his heart is pure. 
What say you, madam, for you know him best ? 


The land is all ablaze with health and glee 
Since Olaf Hunger died, and men may deem 
That all this good is fruit of Erik's reign, 
Fair crops and dewfall, rain and stormless sea, 
And so God's very gifts augment his fame j 
So do not I, who strive beyond my love, 
As one who strains across a sunny sky 
With level shading palm, to see the man 
Below the glory of his life and fame. 
But still I fail, for love engulphs it all, 
And blanches all my judgment with white light. 
What say you, and what say the rest of him ? 
Do any judge him hardly in their sleeve, 
Or mutter fiercely when they see him pass ? 


I think not one ! I hear no word but this, 
That he is kingliest king and manliest man. 
Too proud to be discourteous to the least, 
Too wise. to vex his heart with idle words, 

SCENE I. King Erik, 

Too strong and young to scorn the old and weak, 
And stained with no one drop of Christian blood. ^ 


That is most true. At home, in Germany, 
The feuds run high betwixt this house and that ; 
My brother killed a man in open street 
The year that we came hither. Erik said, 
A flame of anger smothered in his voice, 
" We spill not men's blood in the Danish streets, 
And yet we are not cowards." God be thanked ! 
I know he never slew a Christian man. 


How gallantly he rides ! 


You foolish maid, 
You know I cannot chide you for such talk, 
Which wastes yoiu: time and mine. 

[Knocking without,'\ Ah ! who is there ? 


Go see who knocks, Svanhilda ! If it be 
Marcus or Grimur, let him in, and then 
Pass out into the court and feed the doves. 


It must be Marcus. Rise, and fetch my lute I 
[Enter grimur.] 


Madam, your maid was loath to let me in^ 

8 King Erik, act i. 

And if I had not heard your voice declare 

I was not quite unwelcome, I believe 

I could not have withstood her crabbed face. 

BOTILDA {smiling). 
It seems she does not love you ! 


Do you mark 
This broken rose I wear upon my breast ? 
When dawn was shooting first across the sea 
This morning, in the garth below, I saw 
These red leaves dropping like rose-flakes from heaven. 
And saw your whiter hand stretched out, as though 
The morning wind had 'scarcely spent your sleep. 
I kept the shattered core of it to wear 
Upon my heart. 


It is not worth the pains ! 
Far better blossom round the window there. 
[thora returns with the lute. To her .•] 

Before you come 
Gather a white-rose cluster in your hand, • 

For Grimur wills to chose one. 


Madam, nay ! 
The blood-red-hearted flowers are all! love; 
White roses are for maidens and dead brides. 
I pray you let me keep the broken core. 
\A pause!\ I come to say farewell ! 

SCENE I. King Erik. 


Farewell ? To-day ? 
To-day the King comes back ! Have you not heard ? 
How strange to go to-day. 


The hour has come. 
I go to Odense, and there perchance 
The bride will meet me whom I go to wed ! 
Madam, I mean to sit among the graves 
And learn the marriage vows from aged priests, 
And in a little while to wed ! 


'Tis well ! 
There is not any bar ; I wish you both 
A happy life before the blessed end !^ 
Whom shall you marry ? 


Will you hear her name ? 
Men call her Thanatos ! 


The sound is Greek ! 
I know you have been often in the south, 
But you have never let me hear before 
That you had found a bride there ! You abode 
A year — ^you told me once, in Micklegarth ! 
And does she dwell there always ? 


Nay! elsewhere 

lo King Erik. act l 

She has her pilgrim-stations. Only there 
Her lovers seek her most ; they love her best 
Who are most weary, and of weary men 
The pale-eyed Greeks are weariest, yet I more I 


Is she the only daughter of some king 
To have so many suitors ? 


Yea ! of him 
Who rules all kingdoms of the nether world ! 


Grimur ! What, Caesar's daughter ? Ah ! you mock 
My foolish fancy with some riddlmg word ; 
What is this strange Greek girl ? 


Not Greek nor Dane, 
But queen, and spouse, and mother of us all, 
And here we call her Death ! 


And you will die ? 
Grimur, you mock me still ! What need to die 
When life rekindles at the King's return ? 
My life redoubles beyond dream of death ! 
What thing can slay you ? 


Nay ! I v, ill not say. 
There have been men to whom the mummer Liove 

SCENE I. King Erik. ii 

Came rattling bones and grinning, and who died 
Not knowing it was Love who laughed the while. 


We have been friends, if such a queen can be. 
Whose state must be most lonely when her king 
Sits not beside her. Yea, I will say friends. 
For here in this clear air of Danish life 
A king and queen are not too highly perched 
For subjects' eyes to light on. Then, if friends 
We be, before you ride into the west, 
And meet new life, or, as you deem it, death, 
Speak frankly once and let me see your soul. 
Here in the North men have few words to say. 
And say them shortly ; you have lived and moved 
So long among the shifting Greeks, that you 
Shift also, winding in a coil of words. 
You speak — and out upon my woman's wit 
That will not teach me what it is you lack — 
As though your spirit bled from some deep wound 
That no one found a herb to stanch ; and yet 
I know not why you half-confide your loss 
To me, a simple and unlearned girl, 
Nor why this strange fire gathers in your eyes. 
You have been often here since Erik went ! 
Stay two days more, and tell your heart to him. 
Could I have helped your want, I know ere this 
You had revealed it. 

GRiMUR {passionately). 

None could help so well f 

12 King Erik, ACT I. 

( With a sudden change^ 
Oh madam, pardon me j I came to tell ' 
Your Grace a story that I learned but now, 
Of how a maid in some outlandish place 
Looked upward with dumb lips and eloquent eyes 
At the land's king who passed her, and how he, 
Although he had a noble queen to wife, 
Left all to win this girl, and crossed the seas. 
And how they died together. But the tale 
Is hardly worth your patience. Let me go ! 
At Odense the bones of sainted Knud 
Draw maimed and halt and leprous folk in crowds, 
Who swarm for healing to his porphyry shrine. 
Thither I, too, will go ! Perchance the saint. 
Who loved and hated in his worldly days, 
May yield the secret of some sovereign balm 
Whose touch may cool this fever. Ere I go. 
So, kneeling on the ground, I pray you, friend — 
At least you will permit I call you friend — 
Then, friend, forget me not ! Farewell ! 


Farewell ! 

\Exit GRIMUR.] 

How strangely he was moved. Ah ! Shall we go 
Across the court and up the winding stair ? 
The furthest turret overlooks the sea ! 


SCENE II. King Erik 1 3 

Scene II. 

The Palace of Roeskild, The Royal Hall adorned as if 
for a reception. On the dais, the King's throne, empty, 
and a little loiver, on each side, a chair of state. On the 
one at the right hand of the throne Adalbjorg sits, the 
other is empty. Svanhilda and Thora busy themselves 
in the lialL 

ADALBJ5RG i^^ery old, muttering to herself). 
So many times, so many days of state, 
So many sons to welcome 1 One by one. 
Slain by the gods, the people, or the priests, 
They come no more from viking ! Now the last, 
My youngest, whom I ever loved the least 
Strange that a mother should not love her last ! 
Knud was my darKng, with the thick short neck 
And mighty chin, his father's very son — 
His father's, who has never seen me old. 
Who loathed a woman's wrinkles. So did Knud, 
And lived to curse me, though I loved him best. 
This Erik is a kinder, softer man, 
Set in another mould. Most women love 
A man like Erik ! How this simple slip 
Of German sugar-meat and watered blood 
Adored him I Well ! I may have had my day, 

14 King Erik, ACT i. 

But I was ever true at heart to Svend ; 
This idle German woman frets my eyes, 
To see her eyes so lightly laugh and move. 
I would that Erik had not married her ; 
He set aside the woman of my choice, 
A girl to make a queen of, not a fool 
Like this Botilda, with her empty laugh. 
(To svanhilda). 
Why came you not to deck my bower to-day ? 


Madam, I waited on the Queen. 


Till when ? 


Till noon. Her robe — 


And were you there alone ? 


No ! Thora waited also. 


Did you sing ? 


Nay j for before the Queen had bidden us 

One came to greet her, parting, and I went. .;; 


Who came ? Not Ossur ? 


Grimur, the young scald 

SCENE 11. King Erik, IS 

Who sings Greek songs below the eaves at dawn, 
He with the shifting lips. 


So ! Grimur came ? 
Is Grimur so familiar in our court 
That queens receive him daily with their maids ? 
Who is this Grimur? 


From the south he comes, 
I know not whence before, but Thora knows. 
Thora (to thora), what landsman is the grey-eyed scald ? 

THORA {who comes over). 
Iceland, they say ; but he has roamed abroad 
In France, and Rome, and Greece for years and years. \ 


How came he here ? 


I heard him tell the Queen 
From Liibeck last, not half a year ago. 
Ere she came hither he had known the Queen. 


Enough of idle talking. Thora, set 

Those scutcheons lower on the further wall ! 

They stand too high. {As thora goes over, in a lower voice.) 

And so Botilda's hours 
Are spent in leaning over from her bower, 
And listening to this poet sing below ! 

1 6 King Erik. ACT L 

And has he come since Erik is away 
Each day to greet her as to-day ? 

SVANHILDA {hesitoiingly). 

The hawk 
Sent in the magpie for a bone he saw, 
And when the bone was brought him, killed the pie ! ^^ 

ADALBjftRG {in a higher voice). 
Woman, your proverbs are not worth your breath. 
{Soothingly,) Svanhilda, you were ever wise of head 
And clear of judgment. Let me know the truth. 
This man comes often to Botilda's bower ? 


The world knows that. Men use to in the north, 
"When they are cunning scalds and play the lute. 


And does he play the lute and nothing else ? 


But men must rest their fingers now and then. 


And tongues ? 


A poet sings above his lute. 


What songs ? 


Nay, Grimur always sings of love ; 
For war we call in Marcus. Grimur comes 
From Micklegarth, where life is only love* 

SCENE 11. King Erik. XJ 


And what has life been in Botilda's bower 
Since Erik went out sea-wards ? 


Only love \ 


Girl, do yofU love the Queen ? 


I love my life* 


I sweat you need not fear me ; answer I 




t also hate her 1 l)o you fear me now ? 


Madam, what would you ? 


Ask you one thing more \ 
Believe you that this Grimur seeks the Queen ? 


With all the blind desire of one grown wild ! 


And has Botilda set the balance up 

And weighed the men, here Grimur, Erik herC) 

And let her soul perceive the heavier scale ? 


I know not, but I think so I 


i8 . Kiflg Erik. act i. 


And her choice — ? 


Is Erik, madam, else my heart is blind. 
Believe me, I have watched her — 


Erik'! Ah! 
I thought we might have sent her queenship back 
Unqueened, and robed in weeds, and spat upon, 
To mourn her folly till her kinsmen took 
Some pity on her shame and ran her through, 
Or locked her in some castle all alone. 
And threw the vault-key out into the moat ; 
But if she loves her husband, all is lost 1 


Madam, perchance the issue is not yet. 
Our cause has one strong friend at its right hand. 
Who cannot fail to help us if we wait ; 
Grimur is maddened with his dangerous love, 
And when I passed him in the courts to-day 
His wild drawn face and passion-hungry eyes 
Drove, with a flash, a new thought to my brain. 
I will not speak it, for my life ! Poor fool. 
He is gone to-day to Odense, fbrsooth. 
Because he cannot face his lord the King I 
I wonder how his lord the King would fare 
If any bird should drop into his soul 
The seed that might spring up and bear for fruit 

SCENE II. King Erik. 19 

This certainty, that, knowing he would come, 

Botilda sent her lover over sea 

Lest haply Erik might suspect her truth ? 

THORA {who has climbed to the window and looks out). 
A sudden shouting at the harbour-side ! 
Svanhilda, come ! The ships must be in sight. 
SVANHILDA {running to the window). 
The dragons will come singly up the fiord > 
I would the hillside did not hide the sea. 


But we shall see them anchor. 

ADALBjoRG {fo herself). 

Softly, soft ! 
The spider started when she felt the fly ; 
That starting loosed the web around the wings ! 


I see the flag ! 


And now I see the prow ! 
Hark, how the people shout, and hark ! the bell. 
The priests have seen him from the belfry tower ; 
Madam, {running over to adalbjorg) the dragon of the 
King has come ! 


Go, child, and watch the sight. For many a year 
I care not much whoever comes or goes. 


I see the King j cznyou not see the King, 
Svanhilda? 2—3 

iO King Erik. ACT I, 


Yea, I saw him long ago ! 
(asidi) God knows, my heart would see him in the dark ! 
Look ! down the line of men Botilda goes ! 


She was not soon enough to greet him first ; 
He spoke to Marcus ere she came ; her robe 
Looks well there in the sun. 

SVANHILDA {laughs). 

He does not glance 
Down at her gay red lilies ! 


Yet he seems 
To have no eyes for any face but hers. 
He does not notice that the Bishop kneels. 
See how the helmets sparkle in the sun ! 
I am glad the town will have its men again. 
The streets are dull with only maids and babes. 


Ah ! now he puts her arm beneath his own. 
And curbs his footsteps to her tender scope, 
And up the shining street they come. 


The priests 
Have gathered round the Bishop, and walk next 
1 think the fighting men should lead the train. 


The priests and bishops have us by the nose ; 

SCENE IL King Erik. 21 

They follow the King only. Take you heed ; 

You may not die before they lead the King ! 

{T/uy come from the window. 

The fighting men have had their passing hour ; 

They should have let King Knud be at his prayers, 

TThe day they smote him in St Alban's church. 

His falling rosary turned into a sword 

That any priest may brandish, and those drops, 

That stained the altar and the choir with red, 

Cry out at Rome against our men at arms. 

What crowds of shaven pates and sandalled feet 

Throng all our corridors since Erik went 

To pray the Pope for pardon for us all 1 

Believe me, not so lightly go they hence. 

\They retire to the hack* 

\Enter King Erik and Queen "^otiimk^ followed by Arch- 
bishop OssuR, frtestSf warriors^ waiting men^ and a 
great crowd that fills the halL Erik and Botilda 
ascend the ddis^ and Erik bows to greet Adalbjorg.] 


Hail, mother ! Give me welcome I 


Hail, my son ! 


How has it been with you I 


Nay ! Hot and cold, 
Hot when the suu burned on me, cold and chill 

22 King Erik, ACT i. 

Whenever my old blood-beats felt the shade. 
I stir about the house less day by day. 


Yet you look brightly ! 

{To botilda). Sweet one, sit you there I 

[BoTiLDA takes the chair to the left ; Erik stands before 
his throne^ looking down the halL There is great con- 
fusion^ hut when they see him about to speak they suddenly 
become silent.'] 


My lords and warders of the royal house, 

And ye who daily serve the blessed saints, 

And all who stand within these walls to-day. 

Receive my thanks, that with such ready grace 

Your loyal hearts have met the warmth of mine. 

And welcomed us here coming from the sea. 

Not now the first time do I test your love 

Returning ; twice and thrice before to-day 

Your shouts have filled my homeward-hurrying sails, 

And taught the winds that Denmark loves her King 

Once more, receive my thanks, and know in truth 

That, tired with wandering on the uncertain sea. 

Your King, for every " welcome " that he hears 

Could fain return you double. Yea ! and dwell 

Upon the sweet and unfamiliar word 

As one who never thinks to wander more. 

So alway at the h^ppy sight of home 

The heart folds up its weary wings, and dreams 

SCENE !!• King Erik. 23 

Of rest till life is done, remembering not 
That in a little while the old desire 
To push with sail and oar into the sea, 
And feel the short waves break again, and bound 
Sunwards, against the salt and gathering wind. 
Will grow into a passion and prevail 
Yet this one time I do not think to change ; 
Nor hardly can the smell of hollowed pine, 
Nor white lines of the breakers out at sea. 
Nor burdens of the rowers any more 
Wake in me the wild longing to be gone. 
Since time, still hurrying by on feather and foot, 
Flits by us ere we know, and leaves us old, 
I trow we should not drop our work undone. 
But leave the last hours fruitful as the first 
Yet from my heart of hearts I thank my God 
He gave my youth some toil to do for him 
Abreast the foam and surf of the wild sea, 
For so my first years have been sweet ; but now 
My ships are anchored and my viking done. 
For when I left you, friends, three months ago. 
We crept along the blue line of the fiord, 
And out into the northern sea, and met 
A pirate fleet that fled with shattering sails 
Before a gale from Norway ; them we chased, 
And after sun-down, by the Swedish coast. 
With never a star to guide us, rode them down 
And sent their souls out screaming in the dark. 

24 King Erik. . ACT I. 

Heavy with prey firom Danish shores they sailed. 
And under hatches m the largest craft 
A Christian man sat trembling ; him we fed 
And comforted with wine till strength returned. 
And with a quivering tongue, too faint for speech. 
He murmured what the heathen planned to da 
Here in Roesikild it was their dream to set 
The banner of their fiendish gods, and slake 
Our altar-tapera in our own hearts' blood 
Then no more did I parley with small schemes, 
But set our prows, before the glint of morn. 
Southward, and, ere the sun set, passed the Sound, 
Nor longer need I speak of all our deeds ; 
The men that fought and fell not at my side, 
Stand there and mingle with your welcoming crowd : 
Their tales will last you many a winter's night 
The Wends will never come to mar us more, 
And so my work upon the waves is done. 
Now other harvests wait for me to reap 
In steadier funows ; dear and loyal friends, 
I do not think to leave my realm again. 
Twice for the Church, with weary steps and long. 
Through German forests to the southern slopes, 
I passed to greet Pope Urban, and three times 
My harrying keels have cut the northern sea. 
Now rest and household labour wait me ; laws 
That build the settlement of popular life, 
And henceforth never any Christian blood 

SCENE III. King Erik. 25 

Shall stain our Danish earth, but pure and strong 
Our kingdom flourish in perpetual peace. 

[Applause expressed by the crowd J^ 


Scene III. ■ 

A balcony overlooking the CcUhedral-close^ and the sea beyond, 
Erik and Adalbjorg enter in comjer^ation^ 


I came out here the morning you set sail, 

And, finding that the place was warm and dry, 

iVe taught my girls to set my ta-bles here 

On shiny afternoons ; here, if you will. 

Be seated. Welcome, though you come not soon ! 


Mother, your pardon that I creep so late 

To this, our first still interchange of words ! 

I thought to come an hour ago ; I thought 

Ere this to have dropped the story of three months 

In your attentive ear, but should even now 

Be still a loiterer in Botilda's bower 

If that red tower between us and the sun 

Had rung no clanging summons of the hours 

To waken my remembrance. 

26 King Erik. ACT I. 


Had you then 
So many secrets for each other's ears ? 


No secrets ; nay, nor had she much to ask, 

Nor I desire to answer. For one hour 

We only looked into each other's eyes 

And murmured little words ; or else I drew 

Her hair out web-wise in my sidelong hands, 

Whereat she laughed, but could not turn, and spanned, 

Or tried to span, my wrist with her small hands, 

And laughed to see the white mark on the red 

When they broke from her. And then she laughed again, 

And strained her lips and kissed me unawares 

So suddenly that I was fain to laugh ; 

And then we sat, her hand gulphed up in mine. 

Quite grave and sad, and still found nought to say. 

You know the ways of lovers, mother ! Fie ! 

That we should be such children still. 


Ah 1 well, 
And found ye then at last no words to say ! 


Ah yes ! At last I rose and must begone. 
But just before I went away she found 
A question that I must not leave unsolved. 
And so we sat awhile again. And, then. 

SCENE III. Kifig Erik. 27 

Just ere I went a second time, I thought 
Of one more thing to speak of, till the bell 
Boomed suddenly, and up I leaped and came. 


A wise man is as foolish as a child, 
And wanton, if a woman whispers " Wait !" 
But now for men's talk, Erik ! Let me hear, — 
If you will take your mother to your heart, — 
What schemes are these to base the public weal, 
State changes that you hinted of to-day ? 


Yea, I will tell you ! But yet not to-day. 
To-morrow is for business. Though I deem 
That man a traitor to his better thought 
Who dallies with a good intent, and lets 
The sword slip through his indolent finger-tips 
With promise of another time for war, 
A luckier season, yet for these few hours 
That separate the violent time that's past 
From golden peace that's coming, I would wait 
Poised in the present. Like a man that stands 
Right on the jut of some dark seaward rock 
And sets his eyes against the sun, and feels 
The soft air winding round his freshened limbs, 
Stript for the swimming, I, who come but now . 
From heat and travail of the dusty wars 
Would pause awhile, tip-toe, before I plunge 
Downward into the sea of rest and love. 

28 King Erik, ACT I. 


Rest! what is rest? 


The fighting man's reward ; 
I, who have fought and conquered, now seek resty 
Or leisure for some better work than war. 


But rest is like the dangerous mandrake-flowery 

A medicine if it fall into your hand, 

But if you drag it from your span of life 

Before its time, it hath a deadly shriek. 

And slays the spirit unaware. Such rest , 

Makes women mad ! We will not talk of this f 

What think you of Botilda ? 


She is pafey 
With flushes in the cheeks, but else not ilL 


I have not seen her often since you went, 
But every morning, every evening, heard 
The multitudinous twitter of girls'' tongues 
Chirping within her bower ; she hath not pined \ 
Her days with lutes and laughter have been gay. 


I would not have her sad when I am gone ; 
She told me how she sighed sometimes ! 


But that 
I could not hear, I lay too far away. 

SCENE III. King Ertk. 29 


*Tis nothing that she laughed. We laughed and sang 
At night above our beer, my men and I, 
And' drowned the long wash of the wandering seas 
With riot of loud voices. 


Yet a wife 
Is somewhat sorry When her lord is gone, 
At least it was so in old-fashioned days. 
Germans have lighter hearts. Ah ! have you watched 
That little cloud climb up out of the sea 
In the mid-heart of sunlight ? See how black 
It grows that was so white a while ago 1 {Cries out) 

[Enter svanhilda.] 
My cloak, and haste or it will rain. 

It comesl 
Erik, I fear the chill. Come in and talk. [Exit] 

ERIK (A? SVANHILDA, W^O will folloW), 

Stay ! What is your name ? 


Svanhilda 1 


Svanhilda ! Have I seen you with the Queen, 
Or in my mother's hall ? A face like yours 
No man forgets 1 


I wait upon the queen 1 

30 Ki7ig Erik'. ACT I, 


As one of her bower-maidens ? Stay awhile ! 
My mother has her cloak ! and, see, the cloud 
Is passing, and you need not fear the rain. 
Why do you tremble so ? 


It is the chill ; 
I do not use to shake at all ; my lord, 
What service have you to command of me ? 


How have your days passed since I went away ? 
Girl, you may tell me any truth you will. 
Nor blush to speak a thing so small. The Queen 
Was sad when I set sail ? 



Oh yes ! my lord. 


So little sad ! Why, girl, you must forget ; 
I know that she was very white and wan. • 
I saw her from the quay. And when some days 
Went by and I was gone, did she grow fair 
And, like the inmost windings of a shell. 
Pearly and rosy once again ! 


Oh yes ! 
Most hurriedly, my lord. 


Nay, not too soon ! 

SCENE III. King Erik, 3 1 

I am quite sUre that she was pale at first, 
And sighed as if a weight were on her hearty 
And often turned aside, and would not show 
How wet her cheeks were ! Did she not ? 


Wl^y, no i 
Or else I never marked it I 



If you loved 
Your eye would see such signs. I know she did. 
And often sighed, and sat for hours and hours. 
Her face between her hands, and looking out 
Along the blue that leads us to the sea. 
What did you there, within the bower, of nights ? 


We danced and sang the wildest, merriest songs. 


Poor love ! She felt how dull and sad it was, 
And made you dance before her, as a King 
Whose only daughter is a long while dead, 
Fights with his grief, and makes his jester leap, 
And shake his bells and squeak, in hopes one day 
To be betrayed out of his tears and smile. 


The Queen danced also. 


Girl, that Is a lie. 

3^ tCh^ Erik ACT I» 

And if you were a man I'd strike yon for it I 
She did not dance. 


My lord, she did not dance» 


And were you all alone there, she and you 
And all the other maidens ? 


Every day 
The poet Grimur came and 'sang to hcr» 

Not every day ! Forgetful, witless girl, 

The poet would not come there every day ; 

The Queen would drive him thence* But now and then, 

Since he is cunning in the lute, he brought 

His instrument to charm her grief away> 

And now and then she listened to his song* 

Was it not so ? 


It was, my lord, it was ! 
And now and then he lingered a long while. 

You senseless girl ; you mad, unreasoning girl, 
He never lingered ! Could a knave so dare 
To insult a widowed queen ? And when he came 
What said they ? Did he tell of wondrous deeds, 
Hakon and Palnatoke, men like me. 

SCENE 111. King Erik 33 

Who fought upon the ridge of the green wave, 
And reddened it with slaughter ? 


Nay, my lord 
He sang of ladies who at night-fajl heard 
Their lovers in the garden*walk, and rose, 
And lifted the green satin of their robes, 
Lest it should rustle in their husbands' ears. 

ERIK* ' 

Their husbands' ! Nay, he never sang of that > 
You know you lie now — 


Oh, I had forgot : 
He never sang such songs. But mostly, sir. 
The queen and Grimur spoke the German tongue. 
And what they said we could not understand* 
But let me go, sir, for your mother calls. [Exti. 


These idle maidens say they know not what. 
The silver on the sea-side of that cloud 
Is gone ; how like a bird it hovers, poised, 
Ready to burst in deluge ! It will pass. 
For the wind rises, and it bows not low, 

\Enter Marcus.] 
Welcome, old counsellor of days long gone ! 
Your memory wakened in me ere you came. 
For I was thinking" of those boyish days 
When you so wisely could control my fits 

34 ' King Erik. act I. 

Of anger and despair ; and now I feel 
I need such help again. An hour ago 
My heart was like a singing bird, and now 
Like one that sings not, battered with the rain. 
And why, I know not. 


In those olden days 
Your eager heart could easily o'ertum 
The balance of the nerves, and oftentimes 
Watching your ecstasy or violent joy, 
I've prophesied and proved a sudden change 
To uttermost dejection. In the boy 
It was my place to check the wild delight, 
And whisper prudence. To the man, the king. 
Such counsel would be folly, and your race, 
Whose veins run swift with a strong tide of blood, 
Were ever thus. But if you question why — 


!Marcus, while I was fighting on the seas 
Where were you ? 


Here in Roeskild all the while, 
Save that two months ago, for one short day. 
My friend the Abbot of — 


And you passed the time 

In singing to the harp? 

SCENE III. King Erik. 35 


Nay, most of it 
In shaping that great song that will for ever 
Join my poor name with yours in deathless fame, 
The saga of your fights by land and sea. 
To which I now must add these glorious deeds 
Against the pirates. Since your heart is sad 
I pray you let me pour into your ear 
The music of the stave you have not heard. 


Not now, dear Marcus. Poets are like leaves 
For commonness, in Roeskild now, meseems. 


Why so ? Nay, nay ! Since Eistein went to France, 
I stand alone in skaldship, for the priests — 
Saint Knud forgive me — ^are poor doggrel knaves. 


Then what is Grimur ? 


Grimur ! very right, 
I had forgotten Grimur. But, my lord. 
His paltry rhythms and bars from Micklegarth 
Would scarcely please you. If I might begin — 


I would see Grimur ! 


But, dear master, but ! — 


36 King Erik, ACT 1, 



I tell you fetch me Grimur ! 


Lo ! I would — 
How harsh you are to-day to an old man, 
Who loves you — lo ! I would, but, dear ttiy lord !— 


Are you so set on singing your own stave 
You cannot—- 


But he is not in Roeskild \ 
Before the noon to-day he saddled horse 
And rode away to westward, and ere night. 
Should sail across the Belt to Odense. 


To Odense ! To-day ! This very noon I 
At noon my ships were winding up the fiord ! 
Why stayed he not to greet me ? 


Nay ! I know not ! 
I asked him wherefore part in such hot haste. 


What answered he ? 


He drew his long thin lips, 
Moving the little forked beard, and laughed ; 
Said presently, he should have gone before ; 
That foxes should not prowl about the coops 

SCENE III, King Erik. 37 

Much after sunrise ; then laughed more and went, 
His little lute swinging across his arm, 
A peacock feather in his hat 


Well, well ! 
I care not what he wore ! I am in haste, 
I go to seek my mother ! 


Sire, farewell 1 

[Exit different sides. 



ACT 11. 

Scene I. 

The market-square of Roeskild. Two priests^ one singing in 
a dolorous drawling tone, and the other joining in the 


He knelt at his prayers in St. Alban's choir, 

And the stars were few overhead ; 
Red was the glare of the altar-fire 

And the northern lights burned red. 


Our martyr and king Saint Knud I 


Outside, in the dark, the grim men howled 

And hammered against the door ; 
But the shadows fell from the clerestory 

And flickered along the floor. 


To our martyr and king Saint Knud / 

42 King Erik, ACT II. 


They broke the door and they thundered in, 

The saint rose up and stood ; 
He held between his life and their sin 

A cross of carven wood. 

BOTH. ' 

Our martyr and king Saint Knud! 


They broke the rail of the altar-stair, 

They quenched the altar-light ; 
They clutched the saint by the long fair hair, 

And stabbed him in God's sight. 


Stabbed our king Saint Knud ! 


The blood ran over the carven cross. 
And his cold white face turned east. 

And his body lay spread in the holy choir 
Like the corpse of a murdered priest. 


Our martyr and king Saint Knud ! 


Ah, brother, very sad ! 


Nay ! what is sad ? 


You sing not well to-day, you are but hoarse. 

SCENE I. ^ King Erik. 43 


These vapours tell upon a tender throat ; 

I was not made for matins. Out and fie 1 

When I begin to sing before the queen • 

My voice will vanish like an organ-pipe's 

When no man blows the bellows ! 


Ugh ! 'tis cold ! 
These misty mornings reddening in the west 
Are cruel for the lungs. If I should cough 
When the queen bows herself in silent prayer, 
I pray thee, brother, smite me on the back, 
For that relieves the tonsils. 


That I will ! 


O cold, cold, cold ! how bitter cold it is ! 

Ah ! here they come, with banners and the pyx, 

And two boys swinging censers. 


Ah ! the queen ! 
\Enter^ from the rights Botilda, ?ier ladies and maidens^ 
some priests and boys,'\ 

Perchance these good men will be wise men too. 
And know the latest tidings. Have you heard 
What time the lord archbishop came from Lund 
Last night, or if he came at all ? 

44 King Erik. ACT II. 


He came 
So late last night that he abode till dawn 
Within a hospice just outside the gates, 
And sent us on as heralds to your Grace, 
To pray you to have patience for so long 
As he perforce must tarry ; but even now 
He should be hastening here. 


And must we march 
To meet the sea ere sunset ? 


Sweet, no man 
Could hurry so far although his feet were winged ! 
Nay, we shall go by stages, and to-night 
Be housed in Aastrup cloister. 


Shall we ride ? 
What are these palfreys ? 


We will ride by timi ; 
For since this going is a pilgrimage 
We needs must walk a little, yet I think 
The saint would never have us die ! 


The good archbishop is quite sure to ride, 
He 'is so short of breath ! 

SCENE I. Ki7ig Erik. 45 


He comes at last ! 
\Enter at the left Erik and his body-guardJ] 


Oh I Erik, welcome ! welcome ! 


So, dear love, 
You did not think I should be back so soon. 
We found the knave at once ; he saw our helms 
Shining beneath his castle in the wood, 
And when we came it was to boltless doors. 
And I have brought him with me. But, sweetheart, 
So early walking in the dewy streets ! 
I thought to find you nestled in your bower ! 
And all these ladies too ! and all these priests ! 
\_They move forward?^ 


I am so glad to see you ere I go I 

Go where ? 

I thought before your work was done, 
We should be home again ! 


Be home again ? 
Where are you bound, Botilda ? 


To th€ shrine 

46 King Erik. ACT II, 

Of Knud, your brother ! When you sailed away 
To fight the Wends, I went that very night, 
And all the priests before my face read mass, 
And broke the blessed wafer ; there I vowed. 
At night, in the cathedral, Erik, think ! 
That if I ever saw your face again, 
Bending above me, I would wend on foot 
And pay my offerings at the blessed shrine — 

ERIK. , 

At Odense ? 


Are you not glad I prayed ? 
My vows have brought you back ! 


Yea ! brought me back 
Too early or too late, methinks. 


What, love ? 
You ought to take my hands in yours, and bless 
My journey with a kiss. I do not care 
For all these folk around us ! Dear, those eyes 
Looked kinder when I bid you last farewell ! 
But you will let me go ? 


To Odense ? 


For women always ought to pay their vows. 
Lest up in heaven the holy saints sliould frown 

SCENE I. King Erik, 47 

And stamp the sapphire pavement, like the priest 
When giggling girls break silence at the mass. 
Laugh, Erik, or your eyes will frighten mine. 
Dear love, why do you look so strange at me ? 
Will you not let me go to Odense ? 


No, by my God, I will not ! 


Erik, why ? 


No matter, but I will not ! Get you home ! 

[Erik goes over to his men^ who follow him. Exeunt 
BoTiLDA half shrieks, sinks on a stone seat, and covers 
her face with lier hands. The ladies and maids ^ who 
have kept aloof y flock round her.] 


Madam, what ails you ? 


Ah ! how pale she is ! 


Nay ! she is hot as fire ! 


Oh ! let me breathe, 
'^anhilda, hold my hands ! Dear friends, forgive ; 
The air is frore j I am not wont to rise 
So early ! 


Hush ! and have you any pain ? 

48 King Erik. act ii. 


Yes ! at the heart. But it will pass ! Dear friends 
O do not look so anxious. I will rise ! 
Thora, your arm ! You see I am quite well, 
Indeed, indeed, quite well ! 


The archbishop comes ! 

ossuR {enters with a train). 
Madam, this early pilgrimage of yours 
Commends your zeal and chides my tardiness, 
Yet when I tell you all, — ah ! help the queen, 
She faints ! support her I 

BOTILDA (resolutely rising). 

It is nought 1 forbear I 
Dear friends, it passes ; I again am strong, 
Ossur, the king is in Roeskild again ! 


So soon, and is his work of justice done ? 


Himself will tell you all ; but for the rest 

He brings such tidings to himself and me, 

As breaks our course of action. Friends, you saw 

How suddenly it moved me 1 When he heard 

That we had planned this pilgrimage to-day, j p 

He would that I should hold to it, and go ! 

Nay ! when I prayed in this new urgent need, * 

(Whereof I will not speak at large) to stay, 

And share in its doubtful issues, how his voice 

SCENE I. King Erik, 49 

Grew loud in his^dissuasion, ye all heard, 
Who watched us ! But at last my wish prevailed, 
And if ye go to Odense at all 
It must be without me. 


But all your vows ! 


I will redeem them later, or if not 
The saint shall lose no honour for my sake, 
Some other way of worship being found. 
But leave us, I would see his Grace alone. 

\AU exeunt but Botilda and Ussur.] 


let us sit awhile ; 'tis early still ! 
The town has scarcely yet begun to stir. 

1 pray you tell me, do you love the king ? 


Next after God, the best I know. Since first 

I held his span-long body at the font, 

And felt his tiny grasp, I've watched his growth 

In manly attributes of body and soul, 

With pride and godly hope. Why do you ask ? 

You knew the answer ere it came. 


I did! 
My heart is sick and faint with rootless fear, 
And I would stay myself on you ! 




so King Erik. ACT II. 

What secret thing is this that shakes you so ! 
Will you not tell me ? 

BOTILDA {starting). 

There is nought to tell I 
I will go home again ! Is this a dream ? 
Oh ! crush my wrists together with a rope, 
Strain back my hair like mad-folk's hair, for I 
Am mad, — or dreaming ! Nay, I am quite well ! 
Let us sit down again and rest and talk ! 
How strange it is to think that you have known . 
My Erik ere he was a man ! 


Ah, say ! 
Shall we not go ? Your cheeks are drawn and white ; 
I know not what strange flame is in your eyes. 
You are not well ! 


Yes, very well 1 Not yet ! 
When folk come by, I'll rise and take your arm ! 
But speak to me of Erik in his youth. 
Not as a child ; i^do not dare to think 
Of him as less in stature than myself; 
But how he reached the fulness of his height 
And bloom of earliest manhood, that strange time 
I love to dream of ! When I saw him first 
Young as he was, the passion of the wars 
Had lined his face with furrows. Was he fair 
In earlier days ? 

SCENE I. King Erik. 5 ^ 


Yea ! as God's angels are, 
With perfect limbs and a most faultless face, 
Save that the mouth was set and somewhat hard, 


But now the yellow hair conceals the lips ! 

How strange, I never saw his mouth ! {Aside) To-day 

I am glad at heart I never saw his mouth. 

Father, when you were first a country priest 

Did common peasant women who were sad 

Come weeping to your cloister, tell you all, 

And sob till they were quiet ? 


Yea, somerimes ! 


If such a time should come that I should be 

So desolate, and weak, and sick at heart 

That sitting, leaning in my satin sleeves, 

Wiih perfumes in the air I breathe, my eyes 

Should watch a beggar in the streets below, 

And envy her, and pray that I were dead, 

Say, will you let me come to you, and pour 

The torrent of my sorrow in your ears, * 

And weep till I am still, and rock myself 

As some poor nurse may rock a fretful babe, ^ 

That dozes, worn with wailing. {She kneels before Mm.) 


Madam, rise ! 


52 King Erik, act ii. 

Oh ! rise, dear daughter ! I entreat, entreat ! 
What sorrow can assail you so ! What fear 
Has power to shake your soul with such distress ! 

tell me ! 

BOTILDA {rises). " 
I am weak and overstrung ! 
Forgive this foolish passion ! When the king 
Came suddenly to-day, he had strange news ! 

1 was not ready, knew not how to bear it ! 

I have not learned to school my face to follow 
The brain's behests, it shows too much the heart — 
My weak, flushed heart, made faint with extreme love. 
The town is waking ; listen ! Let us go ! 


Scene II. 
A garden in Roeskild, Thora weaving flowers, - 


I wish there were more yellow flowers in June ; 
My gaijand is too full of reds and blues ! 
Mow, cowslips would be best ; but they die soon, 
And those white stars with little cups of gold 
They put upon the altar-cloth in Lent, 
Are over, too ; and tulips fall abroad ! 
Well ! I must keep to roses ! . Oh how still 
The grass and trees are in the afternoon. 

SCENE II. King Erik, 53 

I wonder where the birds are? All the bees 

Are fallen asleep upon their thymy beds. 

I am tired of this low bubbling of the well, 

In Roeskild one can never get so far 

As not to hear some fountain ! 

\Enter Grimur.] (To Grimur). Back again ? 

I thought you were in Odense ! 


You did? } 
Well, so I thought myself ! 


What brings you back ? 


What took me forth, free fancy and light heart ! 


I wonder you should chance to find me here. 
We maids come here so seldom, but the queen 
Frequents this little plot, and loves to lie 
Full length upon the summer grass and watch . 
The moving shingle at the well-spring's heart 

Yea, I have seen her so. And will she come 
This afternoon to wander here alone ? 
I grew so tired of exile from the court, 
I never crossed the sea ; for when I came 
Down to the shore and saw the hills of Fyen, 

54 King Erik. ACT li. 

A kind of horror took me for the life 
That I should lead there. Roeskild is the sun^ 
The rest of* Denmark but a moor at night ; 
Here only men can act and women speak, 
In other places mere uncultured boors, 
Like beasts of burden, sp^in out doleful lives,. 
With sordid, paltry loves and hates and fears. 
A man of spirit craves a busier scene. 
You are the first that I have spoken with 
Since I set out ; the rest one whistles to 
As to a hound that fawns to be caressed. 
Or sneaks away to deprecate the lash. 
The common folks are curs. 


You cannot be 
A Dane at heart ; you are not one, nor know 
The spirit of our people. I wax red 
And hot to hear you speak so. Such as you 
Stir the hind^s heart beneath his fustian coat. 
And though he answers not, some bitter day 
You will remember and he not forget. 


Enough, enough I you do not know the world ! 
You should have ridden beside me as I rode 
By William Rufus through the farms and thorpes 
In England, three years since ! Hah ! that was life 
Worth living in the country. Oh ! to see 
The people flying out into the woods, 

SCENE II. King Erik. 55 

To miss the red king's whip ! I swear I thought 

I should have died of laughter as I rode ! 

Poor William, dead this year ! He drank so deep, 

Knew a hound's points, and women — ! Well ! ah well ! 

The best of men die soonest ! Where's the queen ? 

You have not told me how Botilda fares I 


You cannot see her, she is faint to-day ; 
And lies in the white chamber. 
\Enter Marcus.] 


Grimur, hail I 
I saw you from the terrace, and came down. 
An hour ago I heard of your return. 


You give me a cold welcome 1 By St. Knud, 
I did not wish a warmer, hoped to come 
Unseen and unreported, and so crossed 
The fiord below the haven, climbed the hill 
And won the town first by the palace gate. 
Who told you of my coming ? 


Why, in truth — 
If you will know — the mother of the king. 


Svanhilda must have seen you ; ere I came 

56 King Erik. ACT II. 

She passed me on the terrace, would not speak, 
But hastened on — ; 


Yea ! tell me now at once 
What crime against this people have I done 
That all men peep and whisper where I go ? 
Am I not friee to ride away in peace. 
One day, and on the next day come again ? 
What do these women think that I have done ? 
Am I a beast to eat them ? Have I slain 
Their gallants secretly, and gouged their eyes 
To mix in magic salve ? It makes me mad 
Thus to be spied upon and tracked and trapped ! 
Learn once for all that I am the queen's friend ! 
The queen shall know how much ye vex my life. 
{Aside) Go, Thora, tell the queen that I am come — 
She knows it last of all, I warrant you — 
And pray her, if she rest enough by then. 
To let me speak to her to-night. The sky 
Is broken ; it will clear at sundown. Go ! 
And pray her meet me underneath her bower 
To-night at moon-rise. If she will not come. 
Then tell her that I sail away at dawn. 
And plead with her to come to say farewell. 
I send no other message. Oh ! plead well ! 
Thora ! To-night at moon-rise ! Thora ! Stay ! 

\Exit Thora. 

SCENE II. King Erik, 57 


By chance, have you seen Erik since you came ? 


No, wiseacre, nor shall before I go ! 

You are too wise, sometimes ! Before I reached 

The strip of sea that parts us off from Fyen, 

I heard in Soro cloister, where I lay, 

That Erik had gone west to Kallunborg, 

To chasten some offender. " I know well 

He will not see Roeskild again for days ! 


And so you thought the hour for your return 
Propitious ! 


Nay ! I do not heed this king 
More than a paste-king at a puppet show. 
But I have changed my journey, bent my vows 
From Danish Knud to Bridget of the Swedes, 
And go to Lund to worship at her shrine. 


You talk too much of worship. Men like you 
Would liefer dawdle at a lady's train. 
And kneel before her in her bower, than bend 
A fearful knee in church at a saint's shrine. 
Your twinkling eye-lids give your words the lie ; 
Nay, Grimur, not so glibly talk of prayer ! 

5 8 King Erik, ACT II, 

So ! will you let those jangling strings be still,*^ 
And listen ? Pray you, may I question you ? 


Speak out, most reverent age ! 


First, then, what words 
Were those you whispered when the maiden went ? 


I prayed her bring a psalter ! 


Ribald youth, 
What words were those you spake about the queen ? 


I bid the girl go tell her how my face 
Was withered with my fasting ! 


Idle knave ! 


Diligent graybeard, it is my turn now ! 

Pray you, what right have you to question thus ? 


The right of one who serves the king and queen, 
And doubts him of your fealty to both. 


Doubt not ! I am most loyal to the queen. 

SCENE II. King Erik, 59 


What is your mission to Botilda now ? 

Why did you leave the town, and why return ? 

Why did you stay here chattering to her maid ? 


I wait to hear another " why " ! Behold, 

I have not patience to endure your tongue ; 

Marcus, your fame is rife in all the court, 

The little boys and busy chattering girls 

Point at you for a dullard that will push 

His beard into the smallest hinge ajar 

To peep and listen. Yet, lest you should go 

With lifted hands and eyelids to the king, 

Or prattle to his mother, learn that I 

Come hither in my friendship for the queen 

To kiss her robe in parting. I am tired 

Of barren dunes and spaces of cold sea ; 

To-morrow I go southward ; while I lay 

At Soro, in the monk's refectory 

I met a man who told me that my friend, 

Count Roger, reigns in Sicily j his name 

Woke memories in me of the golden days 

When he and I went harrying down the coasts 

Of Tunis and Algiers. I go to him \ 

There by the borders of the summer sea 

Men lead a merrier life, and love their days, 

And drink large draughts of pleasure till they die. 

So, since Botilda is my only friend, 

6o King Erik, act ii. 

Here in Roeskild, methinks the boon I crave 
Of saying just farewell to her is small. 
And let me warn you, Marcus, dare to pass 
Between me and my will, — you may not live 
To finish your great saga of the king 1 


I do not feJar you, nor your tags and rhymes, 

My verses are of nobler pitch than yours. 

Go sing your staves and little pretty songs 

To women of light loves in Sicily. 

But let me teach you that the king is here, 

Here in Roeskild, here in the court ; that he 

Has heard what shame your idle words and songs 

Have wrought for the queen's honour. Pure is she, 

Clear-thoughted as a maiden, and reflects 

No stain of yours upon her perfect heart, 

But if you would not that the king should come 

And bid his men to bind you hand and foot, 

And mar your body, as men did last year 

To Magnus, up in Norway — 


What did they ? . 


Bound down the lad, and took away his eyes. 
And worse than that ; and then while still he moaned, 
Made hopeless in his pain, and strove to die. 
They bore him to a prison by the sea, 

SCENE II. King Erik. 6i 

And nursed him so that still he lives and moans, 
Bafren and blind. 


So shall not I be bound, 
To-morrow I will journey. 


Best to-night 
Let your sharp hoof-falls ring along the road. 
Each hour you stay is perilous ! 


My life is mine to do with what I will, 
Your words and thoughts I neither need nor heed. 
I feel within my heart we shall not meet 
More, before death. It may be, you being old. 
That I shall linger in the flowery south 
Till you are dead and buried. Fare you well. 
And leave your harp and saga when you die 
For me to sing and twangle. 


Fare you well. 
But oh ! once more, be wise, and ride to-night ! 

\Exeunt different sides."] 

62 King Erik ACT II. 

Scene 111. 
Terrace under BotildcHs bower. Enter GriMUR. Moonlight, 


How strange is love ! It grips us by the throat, 
Shuts up the eyes of reason, drugs the soul, 
And leads the body prisoner where it will. 
Why am I here ? I have not here one friend ; , 
This castle, this whole town, this very land 
Are in his hand who hates me. At this hour 
His a^tes may be waiting for my blood. 
And his worst ruffians with a wary thumb 
Trying the murderous edge. Why am I here ? 
Can just a woman's countenance so change 
The wholesome temper of my brain and will. 
That I can walk into the jaws of death 
Merely to see her ? If she had been mine. 
If once and for one moment's space her mouth 
Had brushed my lips and trembled there and gone, 
That memory might now nerve me ; or if once 
Her wrist had throbbed within my tender grasp. 
Or once my arm stole round her, but why now, 
When never the least favour that love gives 
Her frosty eyes have granted, I should dare 
Torture and death to see her once again, 

SCENE III. King Erik 63 

Passes my skill. Cold moon, that ey'st me there, 

The light long clouds that hurry across thy face 

Fly and are gone ; thou dost not stir for these, 

But o'er the impassive beauty of thy roimd, 

Like fugitive thoughts that tremble at themselves, 

These stains of vapour pass and fade and fly. 

Oh ! that my body were stedfast as ^y sphere. 

Thou crystal-hearted loveliness ! But I 

Am led by that that mars me, flagging pulse 

And kindling runlet of the passionate blood. 

They move not thee, but this has power to guide 

My panting body whither it will, and stirred 

By love as by a wind that flickers and falls, 

It leads me on to perilous walks of death. 

Shame on this helmless spirit of mine, and shame 

On thee, quick stream, whose throbbings stir me so. ! 

I will be master of my blood I Chaste moon, 

Draw my whole being to thee, and drop thy frost 

Down on my spirit. So ! I will be calm, 

Will bridle in my breath, and teach my heart 

To think not of my love. Now ! I am cold ! 

Cold as the sea that frets against those rocks. 

Falling and moaning. I am still at last ! 

I wait not here for any ! In the world 

There is no woman who can move me now. 

Hush ! how the wind has fallen. Still, so still 1 

Calm as my heart that recks no more of love. 

{Starting up,) 
Oh love, love, love ! Would God I had her here 


64 King Erik act li. 

To wind my arms tight underneath her hair, 

And crush her to my breast, and feel her heart, 

And press her lips asunder in a kiss ! 

Ah ! doth the moon not redden ? Lo ! methinks 

Her heart repents her of her frosty will, 

And blushes with new passion ! Hush ! what's that ? 

The measured murmur of the voiceful sea 

Sounds, but nought else ! How still it is, but hark I 

A door that opened and that closed. She comes ! 

I hear her footsteps on the grass 1 My heart, 

Break not and fail not in this supreme hour ! 

[Enter Thora.] 
Thora ! She will not come ? Oh ! say not so ? 
Flatter my ears and tell me she will come, 
Then break the sad news to me word by word 
As maids tell children when their mothers die ? 
Why is it that she will not come ? 


She will ! 
She rose and drew her hair back from her eyes, 
First when the moon was rising. She was faint 
With walking in the sharp air of the dawn, 
And sudden meeting of the king. She lay 
Half swooning on her bed when I came back 
Full of your message ; when I told it her 
She spoke not, and I thought she heard it not. 
But when I said the words again, she cried 
With sharpness strange to her familiar mood. 

SCENE III. King Erik. 65 

" I hear you 1 vex me not 1" and turned herself 

Round to the wall, and would not speak or stir, 

And now she bade me tell you that she comes ; 

But when you see her you will find her changed, 

So pale she is, with slumber-hungry eyes, 

Dark founts of pent-up tears. I pray you, sir, 

Afflict her not in parting ! Say your will 

As briefly as you can. She is but weak. 

Nor for another gentleman than you 

Would come to say farewell. But hush ! she comes ! 

[Enter Botilda. Grimur starts forward but restrains 
himself. She comes slowly towards him^ hut not very 
near^ and stops^ 


Grimur I 


O blessed mouth to speak Iny name ! 
Botilda ! Let me — let me touch your hand. 


My friend, you see how like a ghost I am. 

And half the bodily life seems dead in me ! 

I have slept ill of late, and changes come, 

And time is not as golden as youth says. 

Methinks I have so little corporal life 

That I would fain you touched me not My maids 

Were lost in wonder that I came to-night 

I wonder, too ! but when I heard your tale, 


66 King Erik, act li. 

And how the purpose of your journey stood, 
I thought that I would speak our last farewell. 
So ! Have you found your bride ! 


She flies me still ; 
Sometimes I think her face is very near, 
To-night she might come walking here and find 
Her bridegroom on this grass. 


I am not now 
So simple as I was a week ago, 
For wit grows fast when sorrow warms the sod. 
You mean that death might find you here to-night ? 


Why, yes ! 'tis true ! 


Death walks not in these courts, 
With noiseless footfalls and a girdled knife ; 
There is no fear of death. Yet you say well 
Saying that danger stares you in the face 
Haunting this plot of maiden turf by night 
Why do you come ? 


Ah ! cannot eyes like yours 
Interpret eyes like mine, nor your wan cheeks 
The hollow writing in the lines of these. 



SCENE HI. King Erik. 67 


I cannot see your eyes. 


But if you did 
You'd see the starting tears that dim them so 
That they are blind to yours. 


What would you say ? 
Oh ! let us hasten through our hearts' farewell. 


Not hearts* ; it may be lips'. Where'er I go 
My heart remains your thrall, and when you die, 
'Twill rise with you to heaven, though all the rest 
Be buried and forgotten. 


Yea ! our hearts' : 
It is my heart that comes to bid you go, 
And pray God speed for ever. Oh, my tongue, 
Trip not, but push the matter to an end ! 
I cannot frame the very words I would. 
Although I learned them ! Ah ! men say they love 
A woman, yet they grieve her to the soul, 
And will not understand the thing she means, 
But force their rough love straight into her face 
When all she asks is friendship. Till to-day 
I did not know, I cannot, yet be sure, 
That you desired — How strange, how very strange ! 








68 King Erih ACT II* 

GRiMiiR {kneeUng), 
Madam, forgive me I 


Rise, the hour grows late 
And I have somewhat left for me to say* 
Grimur, if any little word of mine, 
Spoken in laughter, set your heart on fire^ 
I pray your pardon I 


Shall I rather fall 
And kiss the white feet of your perfect truth ? 


Once more f If ever I have seemed to smile 
At any wanton song that like a bird 
Percht on my maids' lips, warbling, and so shook 
The honour in your heart and wrought its fall, 
Pray you forgive me ! 


Purest saint and queen, 
Stay, your words stab me 1 


Have I given you cause 
In any sorry jest about the King 
To doubt my wifely steadfastness jor faith ? 


K e ver \ 

SCENE III. King Erik. . 69 

Then if it was this face of mioc 
That innocently slew your inward truth, 
HencefiMrward I will veil it to the world, 
Since something in its fashion must belie 
The will that dwells within it. 


Hush, I go! 
Profane not that fair beauty ! Like the snow 
Be cold and silent, beautiful and pure ! 
I will not mar your peace ; my broken heart 
Shall plead no more against a froward fate. 
Sweet saint, whose virtue leaves me pilotless, 
I push the frail boat of my life once more 
Out into the strange seas, I know not how, '^.. 

And care not whither ! O be thou the star 
For my tossed soul to steer by ! Sii^ce no more 
My shattered heart may dream of earthly love, 
Guide it to heaven with prayer. Ah 1 when you pray, 
Remember me in secret 


Yea, I will! 
And may the words that glide from out your lips 
So smoothly, be the index of the soul I 
Grimur, we part, and if we meet again 
Not you, nor I can know, but I trow not. 
Once, this last hour, I will be frank and speak. 

70 King Erik. act ll. 

Put off the woman's trick of measured words, 

And like a man be brazen. Then, if love 

Be this, to feel a heightened pulse of life 

Beat when the loved one's footsteps touch the stair, 

To lose all drooping sense of bodily ill 

When he is near and smiling ; to grow sad 

And weary, when 'tis sure he will not come : 

Then once, and only once, since time began, 

Has love come down into this heart of mine, 

Grimur, I never reddened when you came ; 

Your presence never stirred the little pains 

That vex oiu: idle hours ; and never yet 

Those hours seemed leaden for their lack of you ! 

[A pauseJ] 
And now I must be gone, and though we part. 
Your best remains behind you ! You have sung 
Too many songs that memory dare not lose, 
To fade from ours, and when we touch the lute 
We'll speak of you as of our father's friend, 
A poet dead and gone. Dead friend, farewell ! 

[Exeunt Botilda and Thora.] 

QKimj'Bi (lyin^ on the ground). 
Gone ! Now for silence ! Hark ! what's that that beats 
Aloud and is no bell ? It is my head, 
So hot and throbbing, and so like to burst 
Hush ! is she gone ? I thought I heard a step ! 
Oh that the sea would roar, the wind would howl, 
I cannot bear this stiUness I Hush ! what's that I 

SCENE III. King Erik, 7 1 

I wonder if one lay awake like this 

All night upon the cool bed of the grass, 

Whether towards sunrise one would hear the blades 

Starting at dewfall ? Will the Queen not come ? 

I thought Botilda said that she would come ? 

Dead ! She is dead ! And I am like to die, 

Am dead already ! How the waves are light 

That wash across my bones in this dead sea ! 

Ah, me ! how near I am, not dead, but mad ! 

I cannot yet remember — ah ! she said 

Farewell 1 O what a doleful thing to say 

To one who never yet has fared but ill. 

Why did I not take hold of both her hands 

And kiss them while she stood there 1 Like a stock 

I let her say what grievous thing she would 

And made no answer I Now it is too late, 

I know I shall not touch her till I die. \A pause,'\ 

\Enter Thora. Grimur starts up,"] 


Still here ! Make haste to horse and ride away 
Now in this moment ! 


Ride away ? 


Yes ! yes ! 
Stay for no last words now, lest they should come 
And find you here, and bind you hand and foot 

72 King Erik. ACT II. 

For when we came again into the bower 
We found the maids all pale-eyed and aghast, 
And one, Svanhilda, gone I See, there are lights 
Moving high up the towers, and see they come 
Nearer, and shadows flicker in the hall. 
Svanhilda hates you, knows that you are here, 
And, if my instant thought betrays me not, ' 

Has flown to tell your secret to the King. 
Fly, while the hunters give you space and time ! 


I will ; — ^but, Thora, tell me ere you go 

How looked Botilda as you climbed the tower ? 


Oh ! do not stay , for questions I 


Did she laugh ? 


Laugh ? No ! She moved the comers of her lips, 
But more for tears than laughter. 


Was she sad ? 
Sad that she would not see me any more ? 


Fly, stay not here ! Oh yes ! she was not glad ! 
I swear to you her eyes were fiill of grief> 
Go, only go I ^ 

SCENE III. King Erik. 73 


Ah ! was she sad, dear love 1 
She could not mean those cruel words she spake ! 
Perchance she tried my love with me ! Perchance 
She loves me still, has loved me from the first, 
And tempts me now to try me ! Yea ! I go ! 
Fear not, I go ! My horse is near the gate 
They shall not find me, Thora ! 


Then farewell ! {Exit 


But yet I will not go till I have sung 
One little bird-like song she used to love, 
A carol with the live heart of regret 
Yearning within it ! She shall hear, and know 
I bum to clasp her though she bids me go ! 

[He takes his lutCy and walks underneath the window^ 
where the light is moving. He singsP^ 

Autumn closes 

Round the roses^ 
Shatters, strips them, head by head; 

Winter passes 

O'er the grasses. 
Turns them yellow, brown and red; 

Can a lover 

Eer recover 
When his summer love is deadi 

74 King Erik. act ii. 

Yet the swallow 

Turns to follow 
In the northward wake of springs 

To refashion 

Wasted passion 
With a sweep of his dark wing. 

As returning 

Love flies burning 
To these stricken lips that sing! 

[During the songY^vAK. has come across the stage, and stands 
behind him.^ 


Good knave, a word with you. 

Grimur (turnifjg). 

The end is come ! 


Fine sir, what want you here ? 


My lord, I sing 
As I have often done before, to charm 
The august slumbers of the saintly queen ! 


A very saintly song for holy ears I 
So ! you would sing, forsooth ? Ah 1 by St. Knud, 
'Tis wonder that I did not thrust you through 
But now, when you were whining ! Go your way I 

•SCENE III. King Erik, 75 

[Grimur ^/a«^^ up at Botilda's window,'] 

What, cur, you look up yonder ere you go ? 
What then, can nothing teach you but the sword. 
That queens are for your masters ? Curse and die ! 

{Stabs him.) 


Oh ! pray for me, Botilda 1 


Pray for you ? 
Go down to hell, and wait for her to come ! 
Perchance she loves you so that she may pray 
To die before her time. 


It ebbs away ! 
Love, anger, sorrow, fade into the air ; 
I wish I may die quickly ! Erik, bow 
Your ear to me, for I am fainting ! Hark ! 
About the plot I had to win the queen. 
And hope to feed my passion at your shame, 
I swear she never knew it. — Help ! More breath ! 
How dark it is ! O Erik, drive them off ! 
These devils push their fingers in my eyes ! 
God's mother, save me ! {Dies.) 


Dead, with fruit of lies 
Around him, and one flower upon his lips. 

[Enter Thora.] 

76 King Erik. act ll, 


What's that ? O mercy ! 


Tis a dog that's gone 
Where he shall never taste of mercy more. 
Look at him with the little face turned up, 
The goodly cloven chin, the wanton lips, 
The love-curls draggled not with wine but blood. 
Look at him well ! See him as he is now, 
Before I bid my men to come and throw 
His carrion out upon the shore to rot, 
For you must go back to your mistress' bower, 
And tell her how you found him, and then shut 
The door, and put some black weeds on her limbs, 
And let her moan her matins like a nun — 
The world and I shall never see her more. 

[the curtain falls.] 




Scene i. 

Before Roeskild Cathedral. The doors of tJie Cathedral 
are closed; within the church is heard a noise of singing, 
A priest stands in the porch, A mannoi-artns of the king 


Room in the church ! King Erik comes to mass. 
Open the doors 1 


It must not be so yet 
Within the Lady Chapel in the east, 
They read the last dread litany that gives 
The unanneal^d spirit of the slain 
Its purgatorial freedom. 


Yet the King 
May enter in and worship in the choir. 
Who is this dead man that they bury ? 

8a King Erik. ACT ill. 


Whose corpse was taken from the shuddering sea 
That touched it at full tide. A murdered man, 
1 know not whom I But till the Archbishop comes 
I dare not let the doors be thrown apart. 
He strictly charged me, let no creature pass. 


The King's command is weightier than your lord's. 


Nay, for in him I hear the Church and God. 


Here comes the king. Quick ! Open, or move aside ! 

[Enter Erik, with his train.'] 


, What ! waiting with shut doors ? But overnight 
I told the lord Archbishop to prepare 
The church for mass betimes. I thought to find 
The aisles already misty with the smoke 
Swung thick and heavy round the censer-boys, 
And flowers about the threshold, and a line 
Of nodding priests along the porch and nave. 
So late on such a day as this 1 Good man, 
Are you the only waker up betimes 
The morning that King Erik comes to mass, 
Ere he can meet his burghers ? 

SCENE r. King Erik. 8i 


Pardon, Sire I 
But if your men-at-arms made less to-do 
With iron heels upon the holy pavement, 
you'd hear the sound of singing in the church. 
We have been stirring, all of us, since dawn. 


Then throw the gates wide open. It grows late. 


Oh ! pardon still, I dare not ! Ossur said, 
I must not turn this door upon its hinge, 
Till all the singing ceased above the dead. 


What I means the good Archbishop then to keep 
Our blood and bones a-cold in this sharp air ? 
I like not these strange customs. Hush ! the choir 
Has ended ! Turn aside, and let us pass 1 

[The doors fly open, and OssvR appears, filling the doorway 
with his robes and holding up a crucifix^ 


Behold, behold these bleeding wounds and blush ! 

ERIK (bowing). 
I do my Saviour reverence ? {rising). Ossur, haste I 
The morning wears away ! I hear outside 
The hoofs of all the burghers as they come 
To constitute the Thing. You do not well 


82 King Erik, A€T ill. 

To stay me with these mummeries and psalms ; 

Prepare the holy Mass, and let me kneel 

And take between my fingers in the choir 

The comfortable wafer. If you will, — 

With these new-fangled fashions fresh from Rome, — 

Put it yourself between my lips, but haste 

Whatever you do, I fret till it be done. 



The blood of Abel cries out of the ground. 


Have I not bowed already to the Cross ? 
Behold I bend again upon one knee ! 


Lo ! who is this that with such bloody hands 
Comes reeking to the temple of our God ! 
Lo ! who is this whose feet are stained and shod 
With Christian blood outspurted like the juice 1 • 
Of grapes in the world's winepress ? Who is he ? 


Ossur, if but your looks were like your words 
That thunder with no meaning, I should doubt 
You had not your clear senses. 


. My lord king. 
If with the inner eye I could not see 
How all your soul is stained with innocent blood. 
My heart would deem yours spotless. 

SCENE I. King Erik, 83 


Let me in ! 
You waste my time and yours with blood-red words 
That bear no meaning in them. Has the strain 
Of such unwonted vigil after dawn 
Smitten your reason ? 


You, with those red hands, 
Those feet that burn with slaughter ? Let you stand 
Here in the presence of the milk-white Lamb, 
Whose blood purged our iniquities, whose life, 
Thrown like a rose of sacrifice to fade 
In the inmost flame-heart of the wrath of God, 
Passed into death that we might never die ? 
I will liot ! Go ! I dare not let you in i 


You dare not ? Dare not ? Are you mad, or I ? 


This morning, when the earliest dawn-light broke. 
The birds began to whistle in the trees. 
And half in a half-dream I heard them sing : 
Sister, will you fly south with me to-day ? 
I cannot stay here longer ! and the next 
Answered, Yea, brother, for this Christian land 
Is outraged and undone I And then the first. 
This king that should have ruled the land so well 


84 King Erik, act hi. 

Is fallen, and so sunk in deadly sin 
That all is lost for Denmark, all is lost ! 


What means this foolish babble of dream -birds ? 


These birds were my sad thoughts, that each to each 
Murmured and mourned ! And when I came and saw 
The tokens of your passion, when my priests 
Drew the dark cloth away from side and back, 
And showed me the red cleft your anger made. 
And showed me where the raw edge of the bone 
Stared out, and where the sobbing lips of flesh 
Oozed with the life your violence stabbed to death, 
I could have spread my hands to heaven and cried, 
Not this man's life but mine, my old spent breath. 
Take with a sudden word, O Lord, and spare 
Our land the anguish of this shameful sin ! 


Come, have an end of frantic words like these, 

They shame your reverent hair, that should be crowned 

With sober speech as with a garland. Cease ! 

I know not of what deed of mine you rave. 

But having spent your wrath in this one burst, 

^low backward like a wasted wave, and let 

Your zeal in service overweigh the wrong 

Of this immannered welcome, which had been 

SCENE I. King Erik. 85 

Right sharply chastened in a lesser man, 
But shall be now forgotten. Lead the way ! 


It must not be ! Here ! slay me if you will, 
Slay me as strange men slew your brother Knud, 
But clinging to this cross I'll bar the way, ^ 
Yea ! even in death. 


Ungrateful priest, unloyal and untrue, 
To whom the schemes and trickeries of your church 
Are dearer than the honour of your king. 
Listen, before I smite you ! From whose hand 
Came all those honours that have given you power 
To stand and snarl like some unlovely dog 
That barks his master from the kennel-door 
Wherein that master housed him ? All these years 
When have I ceased to heap upon your head 
The glories of my kingdom ? By whose power 
Have all the wide-spread church-lands of the North 
Passed from the see of Hamburgh, and been laid 
Before your thankless feet, who tread them down 
And spurn them back, and from such vantage-ground, 
Spit out the rancorous poison of your spite 
On my fair fame and kingship ? 


. Oh ! my lord 

86 Ki72g Erik, ACT ill. 


Was ever king so dear a son as I 
To my own country's church ? That I might found 
The archbishopric of Lund, and set your grace 
Higher than all the churchmen of the North, 
Did I not go in person to the Pope, 
And win him to my wishes ? Graceless man. 
How long have I not known you, seen you smile. 
And thought a heart smiled in you. Blush you not, 
To think how I have loved you, and to know 
That you have loved me never ? Quick, repent ! 
Return to your old service, lest my hands 
Be sharp to smite and you die unannealed. 


Your words are swords, and if you smote with steel 
You could not wound me deeper ! All these things 
My heart remembers, and is like to break ! 


Sire, will you that we enter here by force ? 


Strike the Archbishop to the earth. 


He prays ! 
See what a glory flashes from his face. 


Erik, I know not why you hold them back, 

SCENE I. King Erik. 8y 

That raven for my life ? Ah ! best to die, 

Since all that made life sweet is broken and gone ? 

ERIK (to the soldiers). 
Peace ! Touch not the Archbishop ! That man dies 
Who stirs his robe until I give command ! 


How should we hold our heads up any more, 

When all men mocking point to us and say. 

Ye boasted that ye were not wild as we, 

Staining your streets with Christian blood, or racked 

With party strifes among yourselves, and now 

Your king, in whom you bid the world behold 

A mirror of pure knighthood, like a churl. 

Who stabs his neighbour in a drunken brawl. 

Murders a guiltless man ! Nay, though the world 

Point to our fall with laughter, I alone. 

If no man else withstand you, will withstand ! 

Go, take those blood-stained hands, those guilty feet. 

Far from the precincts of the Lord, nor dream 

That he, before the lightning of whose eyes 

Men's thoughts are as their actions, night as day — 

Is blind to your iniquity. Hush ! Hark ! 

They sing the last soft requiem that lulls 

The murdered soul of Grimur in his sleep, 

The innocent Grimur you have foully slain ! 


LoJ shall he say such words and be not smitten ? 

88 King Erik. ACT III, 


Death to the ribald priest ! 


Ho ! drag him down ! 


Break through the doors ! 


First snatch the cross away \ 


Silence f and gather to my heel like hounds I 
Am I not strong enough to plead my cause 
Alone with one old man ! Go ! wait without ! 

\They go out Erik, alone^ comes nearer to OssuR, who re- 
mains gazing upy with the cross before him, 'Eriy. falls 
at his feet ^ 

Alas ! is there no hope for me ? O plead ! 
For you have all the favour of the saints, 
And know the ways of heaven \ Plead for me ! 
.-io ! I have sinned and broken my dearest vows, 
Am stained with Christian blood, and splashed with sin. 
And yet he was a cur, and yet I think 
You even had stabbed him had you been as I ! 
Have you not heard ? It was so hard to bear, 
So hard to come from war upon the sea, 
Made brown with the salt wind, and not so fair 
As smooth lads seem to women, and then find 

SCENE I. King Erik. 89 

This gay bird fluting in the garden-walks 

That I had set to sing in ; ah, the dog ! 

I wish that I had spared him for slow death ! 

Ah ! pray for pardon for me ! Yea ! I said 

That henceforth never any Christian blood 

Should flow for rage in Denmark any more. 

Is there no hope ? Oh ! pray to all the saints ! 

My brother Knud, whose heart was flame like mine 

Before he reached his saintship, pray to him ! 

How can I wash my sin away ? Look down ! 

Cease communing with angels ! See, I lie 

More like a broken beggar than a king, 

Bowed at your feet ! Oh, help ! you will not see 

The devils gibber at me in your teeth, 

And pluck at me for pastime, and not spread 

Your holy hands to shield me ! Ah ! I die ! 

Listen ! I vow before the saints and God, 

To rest not till I kneel in passionate prayer 

Before the holy shrine in Palestine, 

And worship in Jerusalem. Perchance 

Such penance and such prayer may serve to heal 

The anguish of my spirit's inward wound 1 

Ossur, I perish ! Ah ! record my vow ! 

[Ossur slowly letting fall his hands, touches Erik s bowed 
head with the crucifix^ 


My son, the smoking flax God will not quench, 

go Km£ Erik. ACT III. 

Nor break the bruised reed ! Depart in peace ! 

Set all your ways in order, take the staff 

Of pilgrimage, and mourn with contrite soul 

The sins of the irrevocable past. 

God give that in the evening there be light ! 

Scene II. 

The Thing at Roeskild, An enclosure in the open air, on a 
plain ground in sight of the Cathedral On a high seat 
at the top Erik sits ; around him are seats for the nobles. 
The rest of the space is filled with tJu freemen, who bustle 
about, and speak noisily together, Skjalm Hvide rises 
to address the people, 


Silence among the freemen ! Skjalm will speak. 


Hear him ! Good Skjalm, who loves the people's cause ! 


My friends, the lawyers' cases are all solved, 
The suits all pleaded, but before we part 
One thing remains unspoken and undone. 


We came from home to hear the King's resolve. 


Hear it you shall, and shortly ! But before 
King Erik rises to dissolve the Thing, 

SCENE II. King Erik, 91 

Old law and custom teach that I should ask 
If any man in all your ranks desire 
The King's decision on a knotty point 
Of disputable action ? Twelve long months 
Must pass before he hear the like again, 
So let him speak, or wisely hold his peace. 


The heads of every province, ere we met, 
Inquired in all the families what wrongs 
The Thing should judge in meeting. It seems strange 
That none assembled here to-day by law. 
White-headed though some be by dint of years, 
Remember such a peaceful Thing as this. 
No blood -feuds to atone for, no great sins 
Of rapine or of subtlety to clear 
With death or gold ; no tales of fire or flood, 
That lead a weeping train of orphaned babes 
To pray the King for pity ; such a dearth 
Of heart-o'er whelming incidents of loss 
No man remembers since his days began. 
For this has been a year of fruitful fields. 
Soft sunshine, genial rain, and now at last 
Of such a harvest that the granary-doors 
• Creak, well-nigh bursting. But when Olaf reigned 
The hungry land wailed for a little corn. 
And starving hands clutched at the steel that saves. 
King Erik is our corn-giver \ the crown 

92 King Erik. ACT III. 

Of lasting peace in Denmark, and the sun 
That shall not set till all our days are over ! 


Hail for King Erik, hail ! 


The best of kings 
That e'er made Denmark happy I 


Length of days, 
Honour and power and glory to the King ! 


Are there no suits, then, for the King to try ? 


Not one ; what few disputes there were to solve 
The lawyers have decided. All is peace ! 


I have come from far to see the King, and hear 
His voice before I die. 


Good father, stay ! 
The King will rise within a little space. 


I left my farm in Bomholm by the sea, 
Because I heard the King would speak to-day. 
A long, slow voyage, and the wind was rough ! 
I hope he will not fail us. 

SCENE II. King Erik. 93 


Hush ! He comes ! 

[Erik comes fonvardto the centre of the enclosure. There 
is considerable noise and excitement^ 


Perchance there is not one man here but knows 

How lately from long sailing on the seas, 

My ships came back to Denmark. In my face 

The colour of the sea-wind is still red, 

That fades with inland weather. Ye have heard, ' 

Yea ! those of you that come from very far, 

Where Jutish sand*hills stop the long ground-swell 

Setting from England, on your journey hither 

Have heard what power God gave us in that fight, 

And how we shattered Jomsborg. Lo ! to-day 

Not one black keel is cutting the calm sea 

With pirate Wends within it, and their power, 

Pressed inland, threatens Russia and not us. 

So when the summer scent of the green com 

Blew on us first, returning, and when first 

My dragon faced the current of the fjord. 

And Denmark lay around me, in my heart 

I counselled with my spirit and with God. 

Ye know me well ; I am no man of war. 

Nor ever joyed, as other kings may do. 

To trample the red vintage of men's flesh, 

For pastime- or ambition ; time may be. 

As time has been, that vengeance for wrongs done 

94 King Erik. ACT III/ 

May call me out to battle with your foes ; 
Lo ! twice the Wends have fallen, and will not rise. 
But ever when the change of seasons brought 
Conquest and calm, my heart in me has burned 
To live-here in the midst of you in peace. 
And never more than on the very day 
Whereof I speak ; and when the chieftains came 
To bid me gracious welcome, when I spake, 
I told them I would never wander more. 
My friends, I was a younger man that noon. 
Younger, meseems, by years and years. To-day 
The hopes that sprang so lightly in my heart. 
Are sere and blown to ruin by all winds. 
I thought to bind this people like a sheaf 
To stand up in the field of nations, firm 
Among its scattered neighbours ; thought to build 
Such bulwarks of the hearts and hands of men. 
That other kings should gnash their teeth for rage, 
Seeing that hope of harming us was gone. 
Alas ! what stubble of dry fields is thought ! 
And how the flying tongues of passion twist 
And blacken and devour it in an hour I 
I was a young man, and I now am old ; 
Already, though ye see my hands and hair 
Fresh with the morning, on my brain and heart 
The cankering dew of nightfall lies and broods. 
I said no Christian blood should ever again 
Be shed and unatoned for here in Denmark ; 

SCENE II. King Erik. • 95 

One man has slain another man untried, 
Here in our midst, in Denmark ! Ask not who ! 
He stands so near to my own throne, I dare not 
Chasten his crime with death. But for this shame 
I bow myself in anguish. And to you 
Would speak some brief words more before I cease. 
God thank you Danes for all your love and truth. 
And for the wondrous goodness you have shown 
My father and my brothers, your dead kings, 
And, lastly, me who may be dead ere long. 
I bear you witness you have served me well 
While we have been together. But now I 
Must pass out of your life a little space, 
And, no man knows if you shall see me more. 
Since in my sorrow for that ill deed done, 
I vowed a vow before the gates of God, 
To wend to his dear city in the East, 
And heal the inward anguish of my soul. 
Nor dare I linger, since until I stand 
Within those sacred precincts, feet of mine 
Must touch no plot of consecrated ground. 
\The King returns hastily to his throne; there is deep and 
prolonged silefice among the people. At last Skjalm 
HviDE comes forward and will speak, but cannot, and 
then breaks out,] 


Lord King, we stand here, and the earth swoons round. 
The sky seems trembling, and that sacred tower 

96 ' King Erik. ACT ill. 

Shudders as in an earthquake I Lo ! our ears 
Roar with that last strange saying that your lips 
Poured into them, and, as it seems, no mouth 
Has power to utter the heart's burning thoughts 1 
If one had come and told us that the sea, 
Risen a man's height above its wonted tide, 
Had wasted all our leveUands and towns. 
Or if another hurrying here had brought 
New of some strange disaster, pestilence, 
Or fire or flood, or rage of plundering Wends, 
Such news had not so moved us. O my Lord ! 
Turn back and tell us that our ears heard wrong, 
Hearing you bid your land farewell ! If not, 
God send us Danes quick death and end of toil, 
For all the little rest that Denmark knew 
And all her dawn of sunshine's over now 
Since you, her sun, are setting ere your time. 

[SileTzce, and sound of weeping among thepeople."] 


My little one died this day seven'night ! 
It is not hard to bear it now ! Saint Knud 
Be thanked because he took him ! 


Yea, 'tis true 1 
This land is not so merry for young lives, 
Nor meet to nourish children ! 

SCENE II. King Erik. 97 


Had I known 
The King would speak such sorry words as these, 
I had not left my homestead. 


See the King ! 
He presses on the lion of his throne 
With one hand, and the other shades his eyes. 


How grave he looks, and wan ! 


And grown so old. 
Who was so young and comely. Hush ! but look ! 
Again Skjalm speaks and rises I The good Skjalra ! 


Sire, if it trouble not your mood too much, 

Be so far gracious to your loyal Thing, 

And these assembled freemen, to declare. 

Once more, if there be found no other way 

To keep your vow and save the church from wrong. 

Than this, that you should sail away and leave 

Your loving people orphans ? 

ERIK (from the throne). 

There is none ! 

[Silence^ and whispering in knots,] 


98 King Erik. ACT HI. 

\The Leader of the Freemen, and others come forward and 
kneel before him weeping; at first they cannot speak,"] 


Lord King, you know the temper of our hearts, 

And how there is not one man here to-day, 

So mighty towards you is our love and faith, 

Who would not fly upon a wall of spears. 

Pierced with a hundred wounds, to guard your life. 

'Tis needful that I speak of this our love. 

And pray you now to bear it well in mind. 

Lest words that may come after vex your souL 

My Lord, it had been simpler for ourselves. 

And more the way that loyal subjects use. 

If we had heard your charge with foreheads bowed, 

And then without one murmur had gone home. 

But now, within our hearts to-day, all hope. 

All fear of blame and all desire of help 

So utterly have passed away and gone. 

That we are dead before you, and as men 

Once dead have no more fear of their liege lords, 

We count not your displeasure, nor can go. 

Though you should chide us, till we plead one more. 

We pray you, then, before you leave your crown, 

And give your kingdom and your fame away, 

-And leave us without father, without shield. 

To think what wrong you do us ! Nor, so soon, 

And for the breath's sake of a spoken word. 

SCENE n. King Erik. 99 

Or lightly for a promise to a priest, 
Desert your nation's honour ; oh ! think well ! 
Can such a journey made for such a vow 
Be half so pleasant in the sight of God, 
As kingly governance of free-born men ? 
My Lord, it is a strange thing and a new, 
That shaven priests with crucifix in hand, 
And muttering prayers in Latin all day long, 
Should come between the people and their king. 
It was not so in olden time ; ah ! Sire, 
If steel in any foeman's hand should dare 
To seek what colour flowed in a King's veins. 
No priest would hew the caitiff down, nor words 
Of Latin, but rough Danish curse the deed. 
And if the church must rule, oh ! deign to judge 
If even the church be half so well sustained 
In exile as in presence of our King ! 


Dear friends, I were not worthy of your love 
If such a proof of constancy and faith, — 
Albeit your will is contrary to mine, — 
Could stir me into wrath. In truth, your words 
And all your wealth of tears and passionate prayers 
Are like to make a woman of my heart, 
And melt it into weeping. Ah ! would God 
That all might be again as all has been 1 
But this thing that you pray for cannot be ; 


lOO King Erik. ACT ill. 

My vow was far too solemn and too strong, 
To fall asunder lightly. Nay 1 should I, 
Moved by your prayers, put these my words aside. 
No fortune would attend my reign, but heaven 
Be iron, and the angry earth be brass. 


Your nephew, Svend, is in the south, and fights 
Beneath the red-cross banner. Oh ! let him 
Be bearer of your vows before the shrine. 


Ah ! Skjalm ! You have not heard what came but now, 

Sad words from that most Christian potentate. 

The Emperor of Trebizond, who writes 

That Svend, my gallant nephew— hard of hand. 

And goodly as he was, — that Svend is dead ! 

He stormed Nicea first, then Antioch, 

And stood the foremost always in the breach ; 

But resting, with his armour laid aside. 

And that Burgundian princess, who had. left 

All things for love of him, within his arms. 

And all his soldiers round him in a wood. 

The Paynim hordes rushed in and slew him there. 

So one more brave and comely man is dead. 

Ah, friends ! I pray you hold me not, nor hope 

To stem the stedfast current of my will 

That flows to Palestine and dares not swerve. 

'V- 'c"" • * " 

SCENE il. King Erik loi 


And yet once more, if you will pardon me, 

As mouthpiece of this people, I am fain 

To lay their humble words down at your feet. 

Your subjects here assembled in the Thing, 

Desirous by whatever means they may, 

To hold their King and not to let him go. 

Do promise here in conclave, one and all. 

To give the third part of their worldly goods 

To ransom you from all your vows, and hold 

Their King, once more enfranchised, in their midst. 

This, Sire, is no light promise that we make, 

Nor are we all so ready to give up 

The third of what we have, that with no thought 

We press such largess gladly on the church. 

But so assured are all of us at heart. 

That we are ready almost to resign 

Our liberty itself to keep you here. 

Ah ! be not so unhandsome to your land ! 


Good friends, it is in vain I Your many words 
Are powerless as are rain-drops on a rock. 
To stir me from my purpose. Cease to strive. 
I will not take your wealth away, nor even 
Permit my going hence to drain your store, 
But journey to the East at my own cost 

102 King Erik, ACT III. 

Skjalm Hvide, whom you know so well and love 

Shall rule the country while I must be gone, 

I pray you till I come again in peace 

To do him honour in my kingly stead. 

And now, farewell ! And deem me not, my friends. 

Unmindful of your loyal faith and love. 

Nor dream because I hold me to my vow, 

I have not weighed your pleading in my heart, 

And thanked you for your passion. Now I go. 

My sails will fill with the next western wind 

That presses hence for Russia. Friends, farewell ! 

Scene III. 

\A hall in the Palace at Roeskild, Erik alone pacing up 
and dozem.] 


The west wind sets from Kjoge more and more. 

And if we would not wait until it shift 

'Twere well we lingered not ; there's but small space 

For anchorage at Kjoge. All is done ! 

All set in order to the hand of Skjalm, 

Who bears his kingship like a grave wise man. 

But yet it seems I must before I go 

See that fair woman who was once my wife ; 

I'd rather wrangle with a fourfold Thing 

Than smite a little lower with my words 

SCENE III. King Erik. IC3 

That small gold head that will be bowed so low, 
So anxious for forbearance ; like a king 
I may be kingly in my latest hour, 
And ere I go forgive her ! Come what may, 
Whatever tender thing she find to plead, 
I will not touch her with my lips or hands, 
But let her go with dov/ncast eyelids hence. 
Unto our summer palace in the woods ! . . . . 
I wish that it were over 1 
[Enter svanhilda.] 


Ah ! my Lord, 
They told me I might chance to find you here. 


Have you forgotten when you found me last ? 


Oh no I 


The torch-light on your face that night 
Flickered like blood. I do not think you blushed, 
But you are whiter now. 


Alas ! my lord. 
That was a night of blood, and my wan cheeks 
Took something of the tincture. Yet I think 
I never felt much colder in the lips 
Than when I left you last. 

I04 King Erik, ACT III. 


Now these two times 
You cross me with your counsels ; and no man, 
Not he who lies stabbed through in the church choir, 
Has ever changed my purpose in me more. 


Saint Knud ! you will not kill me ! 


Fear me not, 
I may be splashed and stained with Christian blood, 
But it is man's, not woman's. If your will 
Has striven with mine and conquered, not for that, 
Nor for the cunning of your soft, low speech, 
Would I so honour as to slay your life. 
Say quickly, maid, what message brings you here, 
And then make haste to take you from my sight ! 


Sire ! had you always spoken to me so 
I would not now be Weeping ! Idle maids 
Misread the courtesy of kings ! Forgive — 


, I know not what you say ? Make haste to tell 
What brought youhither. 


That your mother lies 
And calls upon your name. 

SCENE III. King Erik. . ^105 


I will not see her. 
Three times already I have said the word. 


She lies there for the most part of the day 
Like one in a deep stupor, with her hand 
Crushing her brows as though the blood within 
Pressed her and pained her ; then at night she wakes 
And wails for you, and cries that you should come. 


What word have I to say that she can bear ? 
'Tis best I should not see her. 


And she wails 
" He pushes me away with both his hands, 
With both his hands he thrusts me out of sight. 
And bruises with the mail upon his hands 
The breasts of her that bare him I" So she cries, 
Until the sound is like an iron bell 
Clanged in our ears, and I have come to pray 
That you will see her ere you sail from port ; 
It cannot be but she is near her death. 


Another woman to forgive ! 


She says 
" If he will listen, I will tell him all, 

io6 King Erik. ACT ill. 

Yea ! though he curse me, I will tell him all, 
That when they lay me in the minster vault 
My shriven body need not fear the worms 
That else should creep about me," and I know 
Her heart has that should make it hard to die ; — 
She taught me, yea ! if I did wrong, my lord, 
It was your mother taught me ! 


I will go. \Exit, 


So ends the hopeless saga of my life ! 

No woman knows a sadder lot than this, 

To love, and love, and be the fool of love, 

And in the end be pitied and despised. 

This bane rest on all serving-maids who dream 

That they may love their masters. Let them love, 

And not be killed or cursed for it, but pitied ! 

Ah ! here comes our new king. 

\Enter Skjalm Hvide and Marcus.] 


I saw but now 
Erik in haste come hither. Maiden, say, 
Where is the King ? 


He sits with Adalbjorg, 
Who lingers on the light side of her grave. 


SCENE III. King Erik, 107 

When sudden changes strike across the life 
They always bring some horror. Each new thing 
Seems somewhat dreadful to a sober man ; 
But time goes by, and life adjusts itself, 
And so the wheels run smoothly as before 
In new-cut grooves. When first the King made known 
The purpose of his heart, we lost all hope, 
And nothing less than ruin of the State 
Loomed in the popular vision. I have sent, 
By counsel of the King, to Saxony, 
Where, in the warlike court of Duke Lothaire, 
The nephew of our Erik bides his time, 
Knud, called the Masterful, and he shall rule 
His uncle's kingdom till the King return, 
A sturdy youth, and wise to govern men. 


I go not with the train ! the King desires 
That I should follow when the winter's past, 
And bring him news of all things. 


You will see 
The golden city that the elfins built, 
And stand at last in Micklegarth. 


WeU, weU ! . 

io8 King Erik. ACT III/ 

Roeskild is large enough for me. I'm old, 
And not too apt for travel. 


Wait awhile ! 
The time is not come yet. These autumn months 
Will give you space to fashion your great song, 
Then bear it with you when you go, and lay 
The finished homage at its hero's feet 


Ah ! but time alters purposes and wills ; 
I meant not that my poem should be laid 
Directly at the footstool of the King, 
But in some primal verses, not yet framed, 
Had willed to pray Botilda take my gift 
And bear it to the King. 


Too late, too late ! 
We cannot more than whisper when we grieve ; 
Grieving, your grief forgets, and is not wise. 
We speak not of her more. 


Yet here she comes. 
VEnier Botilda and Ossur.] 


Hail, madam. 


Hail, good friends ! (To Skjalm) I pray you, sir 
Tell me what time to-day the King sets sail. 

SCENE III. King Erik 109 


He journeys not so shortly; it may be 
In two days or in three he will depart ; 
He will not sail from Roeskild, but will ride 
To Kjoge — 

BOTiLDA {aside to ossur). 
It was at Kjoge, on the sands, 
At sunset — ah ! 'tis not so long ago, 
Do you remember ? Ah ! how sweet it seemed 
To come, a queen, to Denmark, and to meet 
The princes of a land that should be mine ! 


I knew not that the love of temporal sway 
Stood foremost in your thought, and least of all 
That now such vain regrets could stir you so ! 


I said but now you knew me not ! Methinks 
The love of rule is pulsing like a fire 
This hour within my veins : yea, I can laugh, 
Albeit not very loudly. But, good sirs, 
Do so much favour to his grace and me, 
As to depart and leave us. 

[Skjalm and Marcus exeunt. 
Have you heard 
What happened to King Frode in old time ? 


That when he died, they set him up in state, 

I lo King Erik. ACT ill. 

Crowned, with a sceptre in the nerveless hand, 
Muffled with furs, a puppet-king ? 


Even so ! 
And all the freemen, kneeling far away, 
Knew not that he was dead, but worshipped him. 
So am I queen in Denmark. 


Ah ! not so. 
The blood flows redly in your veins to-day, 
There is more flush than often in your cheeks. 


Yet am I a dead queen, and fitter far 

To hurry out of sight into the dust 

And deathly dampness of a twilight crypt. 

Than sit here in my dainty gems and vair. 

Think you that such a one as I can live, ; 

Having lost the spotless honour of my name. 

Dragged down into the mire and made a jest 

For every pothouse churl to gibe against ? 

What is ^t I have done ? Ah me ! ah me 1 

I am a helpless woman, soft as air. 

As frantic as a sea-wave, and as weak. 

Spent with the tempest of my own wild words. 

And fluttering when my heart should bear or break. 

Come Death and take me 1 

SCENE III. ~ King Erik. 1 1 1 


Weep not, rave not so, 
And let us hasten to the inmost courts, 
Lest haply Erik come and find us here. 


I came that I might see him. 


You were then 
Stronger and nerved to bear his utmost wrath ; 
This passionate wind of sighs and piteous words 
Has left you broken. 


Yet I will not go ! 


Ah ! if he come and strike you ! 


Fear you not. 
Lo ! if he strike me I shall die at once ; 
The breath within my body is so faint 
One blow firom him would quench it. 


If he come — • 


I shall be strong to meet him ; if I bleed, 
'Twill be an inward runlet. Hark ! I hear I 
The clank of spurs, a striding heel, he comes ! 

112 King Erik. ACT III. 

For no man walks' like Erik ! 6ssur,'stay ! 

I faint ! I cannot bear it ! Let us go ! 

[OssuR goes to the left to open the door, hut Botilda 
remains in her seat clutching the elbows of the chair. 
Enter Erik, from the right, Botilda keeps her eyes 
upon the ground, JErik starts on seeing Botilda. 
Ossur returns and stands by the Queen,'\ 


Ossur, your presence will be welcomer 
There, whence I come ! 

BOTILDA (aside to Ossur). 
O leave me not ! 


My lord, 

Permit that first I lead the Queen away; 
She is but weakly. 

BOTILDA' (faintly). 
Nay ! I will remain ! 
Go, my good Ossur, go ! [Exit Ossur. 

[^fter a pause], 

BOTILDA (sharply, looking up and clutching the chair). 

Whence do you come ? 


From watching by my mother. 


Said she aught 
Of me or of my sorrows. 

SCENE III. King Erik. 113 


Yea ! some words. 

BOTILDA (starting up). 
Where is she ? I will go to her, and you, 
You shall be near us ! God shall be our judge. 


God is the judge of all of us, but now 
She stands before him nighest. 




She's dead ! 


Dead ? With a lie upon her lips, a crime 
Reddening within her mouth, gone up to God 
From soiling a white soul. Ah me ! ah me ! 

{Sinks back,) 


Of all the words she said I caught but these, 
" Forgive me, I have erred ! I hoped for good, , 
Did evil that the good might com?, have sinned 
Before the saints and one pure woman's heart." 
She said not whom she meant ! 


But I know whom ! 

Ah ! now I see it. Erik, can you dare 

To stand there like a judge, and wait for me 


1 14 King Erik. ACT III, 

To throw myself before you in the dirt, 

To grovel for a little grace, to pray 

For so much sufferance from my injured lord 

That I may choose this prison and not that ? 

Lo ! if I pleased you so, and bowed to gain 

The promise of your favour, made my heart 

The footstool for your pride, and sank to rise 

Retaken, a soiled suppliant, to your breast. 

For love, and not for honour, it were well 

You thrust your spurred heel deep into my brain. 

And crushed me there and slew me. 


Let me speak ! 
I stand not as a judge here in your sight. 
But rather at the anger in your eyes 
Shrink like a guilty thing, abashed. 

BOTiLDA (baring her arm). 

You see 
The scar there, bleeding ! Mind you how it came ? 




You were spurred and ready for the chase, 
And just as you were starting, and I hung 
Close to your side, your wild roan reared, and sharp 
The rowel of your spur was in my wrist. 
It has not bled since then until to-day. 

SCENE III. King Erik, IIS 


Weep not, but hear me speak — 


Now all day long 
The sharp edge of your anger in my heart 
Cuts and drinks blood and is not turned away ! 
Slay me and let me sleep ! 


Yet I will speak, ' 
Although your righteous anger, like a flame, 
Bums me to flying ash of shame and grief. 
Behold, I am all broken, spirit and will. 
For I have learned my own disgrace, and seen 
How fair your fame is, and how true your soul, 
And cursed my brutish passion. 


You should fall 
There, on the pavement, on your knees, to beg 
Pardon for your gross anger ; men have thoughts 
So foul a woman cannot feel them stir 
And not shriek out and rave. And now I leave you — 
[BoTiLDA hastily goes but is arrested by Erik.] 

Botilda, stay ! 


Why should I ? 


ii6 King Erik. ACT ill. 


Go not yet ! 
Listen before you break my heart 1 Oh, love ! 
I swear I know that you are clear as light, 
Pure as the sea, fresh as new-fallen snow. 
The only perfect thing that God has made, 
The earthly image of a saint — 


You thought 
That I was base enough — O God, O God ! 


Forgive me that I thought at all ! Poor fool. 
Tricked by the beating of my jealous heart. 
Ah ! had I loved you less I had not been 
So mad, and to my own dishonour swift. 
Ah ! can you not forgive me ? 


Dear, I do ! 
But oh ! what sorrow you had spared us both. 
Had you been trustful. 


Ah 1 how sweet you are 
How beautiful the light upon your hair. 
Your living hair, so dull an hour ago. 
I never loved you as I love you now ; 
Red lips, bright eyes, the living face that moves 
Changeful and changeless like the radiant sea ; 

SCENE III. King Erik. 117 

My own desire, my only one delight, 
Leave me not now, but let us hand in hand 
Go up into the Holy Place, and kneel 
Together at the shrine. 


I do not dare 
So long a journey, and so far from home. 

ERIK. \ 

Ah ! will not you go with me ? 


If you say 
That I can dare to do it, I will dare. 


My brave Botilda, 


You may kiss me now ! 
I never loved another man than you ! {They embrace,) 

[the curtain falls.] 




Scene I. 

A plain two miles north of Constantinople. The Royal 
Tent in the Danish Camp, Enter Botilda and 



Madam, the daughter of this emperor 

Has sent you flowers and fruits, with loving words ; 

Her gifts stand piled within. 


The messengers 
Had found a warmer welcome in my heart 
Had they been sent to lead us to the town. 


What answer shall I give ? 


What boy or man 
Came with the present? 

122 King Erik. ACT IV. 


Neither man nor boy, 
Or if a man, so withered, wrinkled, parched, 
So yellow in the eyes, so foul of face. 
He rather seemed the ape out of a show 
Than man or Christian, yet he spoke in Greek. 


How weary is this hot and windless air ! 

\Enter Erik.] 
Have you not come to strike away the gyves 
That bind our wrists and ancles ? One may stir 
As nimbly as a hind, and yet be bound 
With bonds that eat the life out. 

\To SvANHiLDA.] Go and say 

The Queen thanks Caesar's daughter for her gift 
And hopes ere long to tell herself as much. 


Erik, I die ! 




Can you cease to fret 
Curbed at this last strange moment of our life 
Here at the gates of Micklegarth ? Methought 
Our cousin Vladimir was over-fain 
To spur us on our journey to the south, 
But here we rust and fume, and cannot stir, 

SCENE T. King Erik. ' 123 


Some subtle fear must move Alexios much. 


This is the outer portal of that shrine 
Wliose holiest holy is Jerusalem. 
Now were we near our end. 


Ere many hours 
Entrance must be vouchsafed. 


Ah ! but not thus 
Came all the other Northern men of war, 
Stealing to Micklegarth ; but with their keels 
Ploughing the sunlight of the Golden Horn, 
Like Sigurd Jorsalfar, with cedar oars 
And sails of silk ; or like the wandering sword, 
King Harald Haarderaade, he who fled 
The passionate sorceress Zoe, as we heard 
But lately in pur cousin's court. But you, 
Though ringed about with splendour of a king, 
And on a grave and holy errand bent. 
Are left outside, and flowers are sent to me, 
Flung to appease, as bones to famished dogs. 


Justice, sweet Queen, and patience for the Greeks, 
Not given, as we, to sudden strokes in the light. 
This Emperor has lost in years gone by 

124 King Erik. ACT IV. 

Much honour by the wandering wake of kings, 
And all the rabble at the sacred heels 
Of such as go crusading, oft has marred 
His treasuries and temples. 


But our folk 
Are noble, and too great in heart and name 
To itch for gold, or bite the ruby-stones 
Out of God's mother's jewelled feet in church. 


The man yet knows us not, and would be ware. 


'Tis easy to think ill when one's own heart 
Is bowed to some dishonour. 


Fret you then 
To see the painted walls, the streets of gold, 
The silver spires, and all the gallant things 
Heaped up by vanished Caesars ? 


Nay, not so ! 
Erik, you know me better. All these things 
Had gulled me once into a wondering mood, 
But now I heed them little. Ah ! my love I 
Dream you that I forget, but for one hour, 
The final deed, the expiating prayer, 

SCENE I. King Erik. 125 

The sflence and the incense and the shrine, 

Then when we kneel ^together hand in hand 

Where God's dear house, no more by Turks profaned. 

Stands waiting for all pilgrims ? We may have 

Sweet hours for wonder on our slow return, 

But now I pant to see Jerusalem, 

And have no wish beside it. 


Yea ! till then 
A ghostly sorrow parts us like a knife. 
But fear not, we will bend Alexios soon. 

\Enter Sigurd.] 


My Lord, a troop of glittering men-at-arms, 
Danes like ourselves, stand marshalled at the doon 
Their leader bears a message on his lips, 
From Caesar. 


We will see them. Bring them here. ' 

\Exit Sigurd. 

[Erik and Botilda seat themselves: Enter attendants^ 
bringing in Thorolf, the leader of the Vceringar^ and 
his troop. Enter also Egil, Gunnar, and other chiefs of 
Erik's following^ who stand around the King, Tho- 
rolf and the Vceringar do homage to Erik.] 

1 26 King Erik. ACT IV. 


Hail, King ! 


Hail, chieftain ! Give these men to drink ! 

\Servants give wine to Thorolf and his men^ who all 
pledge the King.] 


How fares your august master ? 


He who rules 
The Greeks and Turks, Alexios, lives in peace. 


Came you from him ? 


Sir, by his leave we came, 
But on no mission from the Imperial Court. 

BOTILDA (aside). 
Death will reach first I 


Whence come ye then to-day, 
If not from audience of the Emperor ? 


Lord, we are Danes, and many years are spent 
Since we were young and turned our footsteps south, 

SCENE I. Kiftg Erik. 127 

And saw the last of Denmark. Nor since then, 

Though many motley princes have gone by, 

Has even in all our days one Danish king 

Come to Constantinople : Yea ! and we, 

Though bondmen in some sort, and hired to keep 

Our master's person safe by night and day. 

And sparkling in his silver mail, and shod 

With shoes of Caesar's service, cannot deem 

That we are wholly his ; our ears have heard 

What good and gracious things your hand has wrought 

At home, in Denmark, and we come this hour 

To lay our heart's allegiance at your feet, 

: ieing Danes and hard of hand, and sick to see 

The gold sword sHp out of these poor weak hands* 

Of Greeks a shadow frightens. So we prayed 

Alexios, that his grace would let us come 

And tender you our homage. 


Good my friends, 
I thank you for your courtesy ! I find 
That free-bom hearts beat under silver mail, 
As under rougher armour I You have sought 
A softer service than our North can give. 
And finding it, disdain it not. These lords, 
Here standing by my hand, would scarce be fain 
To lead such gallant gentlemen as you, 
In scarlet and in silver. 

128 King Erik. act iv, 


Ah, my king ! 
We have to clothe ourselves as he commands 
Who rules the loose-robed and voluptuous Greeks ; 
Chide us not for this tinsel. Ah ! to be 
In some deep forest among Paynim hordes, 
To stain our silver plasquets with their blood ! 
You'd find our thews unsoftened. 


Are you bound 
By any pledge to serve this Emperor, 
Of whom you speak so slightly ? 


Pledges snap 
Like bent withs in the sudden flame of th' blood. 


How ! would you leave your Emperor for our King ? 


Ours also 1 Are not we too, we too, free ? 
No drop in all our veins is Greek ! No word 
In all our speech but has the old home sound ! 
King Erik, we are weary of our lives. 
Tired of the sun, tired of the worn-out men, 
Tired of the eunuchs chattering all day long. 
Tired of the faded women in the streets ! 
Alexios needs us now no more ; the East 

SCENE I. King Erik. 1 29 

Is still, and Godfrey keeps the Turk at bay. 
We long to live the natural life of man, 
Free servants of a noble king, whose face 
Shall lead us on to battle ; here we kneel, 
No more the slaves of any Greek on earth. 
But soldiers of King Erik 1 Bid us march 
Back to the city j lo ! we know it well. 
Know where the palace, where the treasury lies ; 
Strike but one blow, and all the world is yours I 


Ye Vseringar, I bid you make good speed 

Back to your liege Alexios. It is well 

That sight of faces fresh from colder air. 

And coloured with the north, should stir your hearts ; 

Nor do I wholly cast your homage back. 

But take it from you as a Dane from Danes, 

Being your king by birthright. But, as king, 

I bid you all remember who you are. 

Sons of what fathers, honoured with what grace 

To ring about with circles of strong hands 

The Emperor of all the world, and guard 

His sacred head from sorrow. Bear in mind 

How solemn and how grave a charge is this. 

How worthy of such lordly men as you. 

How pleasant to the saints above, since he 

Stands up the very bulwark of Christ*s church, 

Warring the Sarazin ; and this high meed 

130 King Erik. ACT IV. 

Ye owe to valiant northmen of past time, 
Whose eagle eyes and stalwart arms, and hands 
Sturdy to grip and hew, brought Denmark's name 
High honour in these countries. For their sake 
Be no less noble than your past deeds were. 


Yet there be some not dead who bear in mind 
How Harold fled away from Micklegarth 
By night, with all the Vseringar, yet he 
Was noble, and his fame without a stain. 


A wasted woman, no more fair or young. 

Crusted with blood, and seething with worn lust. 

Stood in his path and held a sword to slay. 

Had Zoe, like the Devil, made her nest 

In God's sweet city, Sarras, in the sky, 

The saints had pardoned a young fighting man 

Who fled to earth to 'scape her. 


Sire, in war 
We fought our best for Caesar \ now in peace 
Have we not leave to choose our own designs ? 


Nay, for before you heed, from east or west, 
"^ar, like a storm upon an inland sea. 

SCENE I. King Erik, 1 3 1 

May smite you in a moment. But, good friends, 

I pray you, not command you, seek to give 

The charge your hands received from men now dead. 

Unharmed to your successors ; as you love 

Your country and your king, so love them still, 

But set your honour higher. Be alert. 

Cautious and temperate, chaste and wise in peace, 

But when the trumpets blow and standards fly, 

Forget to love your children, wives and friends. 

Yea ! even forget that ye are Danes and mine ! 

Care less for life than glory \ shame on him 

Who blinks before the scimitar's white edge. 


Hail for St. Knud, and for King Erik hail I 


But if at last but one of you should ^wend 
With honour back to Denmark before death, 
His deeds with lands and gold, as shall be meet, 
I swear that I will guerdon ; and should one 
Pour out his blood on some heroic field. 
Him will I not forget, but lift his name 
And make it golden for his friends at home. 
So now return, and when you find him, greet 
The Emperor from Erik, King of Danes, 
And tell him if it please him not to mark 

9— fi 

132 King Erik. ACT IV. 

Our standards nodding in 'the sacred streets, 

I will take ship across the Euxine Sea, 

To Trebizond, and thence find ways and means 

To reach the holy city of our God. 


So will we say ; and now, our king, farewell. 



THOROLF {to Botildd). 
O Lady, rose of the heart's love, 
Farewell ! 


Dear friends, till next we m^et, farewell ! 

\Exeunt Thorolf and the Vctringar?^ 


Sire, had these warriors had their loyal will, 
Ere now we had been half our way 


What spoils 
The magic city carries in its heart 
Our Danish shrines will never know. My king, 
May we not call them back ? 


Meet chastisement 
Had made this churlish emperor reflect 
On what is due to strangers. 

SCENE I. King Erik. .133 


With the key 
Of Europe and of Asia in your hands, 
Sire, you would stand the highest king on earth. 


Lo ! how ye miss my purpose ! Not to win 
Fresh glory, or new provinces, or gold, 
Have I with little retinue or train 
Come southward through the painful Russian steppes. 
Here to the gates of Micklegarth. In peace, 
More like a journeying prelate than a king, 
I strike my course as swiftly as I can 
Straight to the Holy Land ; and gifts of war. 
Spoil, or rich raiment, gems, or slaves, or ore, 
Would be but like a fair-embroidered scarf. 
Heavy with workmanship of precious stones, 
Wound tight around the naked feet and thighs 
Of one who runs to snatch his life from death. 
So will not I be trammelled \ and I hold, — 
Knowing the wily purpose of those Greeks, — 
That in the armed battalion of our friends 
Alexios had his spies, who, when they bring 
True tidings of my peaceful words and ways. 
Will strengthen him to courage ; you, dear love, 
Who long to see the gates behind our back, * 
Be of good cheer ; behold, I prophesy 

134 King Erik, ACT IV. 

Before a day be past, our cheeks will glow 
Honoured with this Alexios' welcoming kiss ! 


So be it, for I am sick at heart. But come 

And look what gifts this princess dowers me with ! 


Scene II. 

A gallery of the Palace at Constantinople^ opening into a 
garden. The wall is covered with bas-reliefs ; between the 
pillars are pots of flowers, and in front a fountain. In 
the gallery the Frificess Anna Comnena ; before her a 
Boy wih a lyre, 


Have you no leaf to wind into your hair, 
My Eros ? 


When I tore that jasmine-spray, 
I meant it for a crown, but these lyre-strings 
Pleaded in such a plaintive monotone 
For shelter from the noon-heat, that I wound [ 
The arrowy leaves and little trumpet-flowers 
Round them to cool them. 

SCENE II. King Erik. I35 


Sing ! My ears are tired 
With listening to the fountain's spurt and splash. 


2 bring a garland for your head^ 

Of blossoms fresh and fair y 
My own hands wound their white and red 

To ring about your hair : 
Here is a lily^ here a rose^ 
A warm narcissus that scarce blows ^ 
And fairer blossoms no man knows. 

So crowned and chapleted with flowers^ 

I pray you be not proud; 
For after brief and summer hours 

Comes autumn with a shroud ; — 
Though fragrant as a flower you lie^ 
You and your garland^ bye and bye^ 
Will fade and wither up and die! 

The tune is mine, madam ! 


And whose the song ? 


A Roman wrote it, though the words be Greek. 

136 King Erik. ACT IV. 


I would not that the Bishop heard you sing 
Such Pagan melodies ! 


Why, all the town 
Sings wilder songs than that ; yea ! and at night 
Under the lamps, when no shorn priests are near, 
Love-ditties of the olden time, strange words 
I can not nor I would not understand. 
I love to sit here best and sing. 


But now 
Rise up and pass among the myrtles there. 
For by the noise of doors that shut I know 
That these barbarians come. 

\Enter a train of Imperial servants ushering in Erik, 
BoTiLDA, and their attendants, ^ 


Illustrious maid, 
Dread princess bom in the purple, half-divine. 
The King of Denmark and his Queen are here. 

[Anna Comnena advances ; she embraces Botilda, and 
gives her hand to Erik, who falls on one knee to kiss 
it. She takes one hand of each in hers and leads them up 
to her divan^ and seats them on either side of her\ 

SCENE II. King Erik. 137 


Thanks that you come so frankly and so soon ! 


Ah ! you speak Danish ! That, indeed, is well, 
For I not Greek. 


So need I not to strain 
My northern lips to spoil your liquid south. 
Your delicate speech that palpitates with wings. 
Warbling and soaring. 


Will you that we bid 
These fellows leave us to ourselves ? 

\The attendants retire. The boy goes out into the middle 
of the grass-plot^ and sits down leaning his head against 
a marble pedestal^ 


I fain would know by what unusual chance 
You honoured with your study our strange tongue. 


So many of your countrymen are here 
Marshalled within the palace \ all my days 

138 King Erik, ACT iv. 

The knowledge of strange worlds has been a thirst 
Unslaked within my nature. I have learned 
Your Northern speech from women of your land, 
Wives of the guard. 


Not many of the Greeks, 
Sure, are so troubled with our uncouth speech ? ^ 


Alas ! we rulers of the South know well 

Our sovereign day is over. To a friend 

Trusty as you, I say it with no fear ! 

Our mood is pictured on these antique walls, 

Carved out in Parian for some Caesar dead, 

Where mad with love a wild hermaphrodite 

Clings to a flying faun ; so we late Greeks, 

Being double-natured and half strong, half soft, 

Catch at the vigour of your brawnier race. 

That flies and will not have us. See these guards. 

Who cluster round my father's sacred head ! 

Lo ! when a Danish King was near the town, 

Their honour, faith, allegiance all forgot. 

They would have straight betrayed us. Yet wie cling 

About their feet and will not let them go, 

Although they cannot love us. 


So ! you heard , 

What passed within the camp ? 

SCENE II. King Erik. 1 39 


Think you such men 
Meet in strange places and no spies are near ? 


The Emperor had no need to fear so much. 


Madam, my august father knows not fear ; 
But for the general safety of the realm, 
And seeing what office for the church he holds, 
'Tis meet that he should hear what all men say. 


Vet has he graced us with his heart's right hand 
And lordly welcome to his golden town. 
He cannot more mistrust us. 


Nay, my friend. 
But greets you as his brother, and a king 
Whom he delights to honour. But since I 
Can lisp a little in your tongue, and longed 
To show some courteous cousinship to her 
Who shares your pious exile, it was planned 
That I should first receive you. On my troth 
I know not when I was so pleased at heart 
With any unknown faces. Sweetest Queen, 


Say, can our soft ways please you ? 

I40 King Enk, ACT iv. 


All is Strange, 
And we unused to much magnificence. 


But you must stay till all is no more strange, 
For by the rood, I love you 1 We will make 
Your stay here like a triumph I Here's my hand, 
Let me kiss yours ! 

BOTILDA {kissing her). 

You see I have with me 
The violets you sent me. 


Ah, but, sweet 
You should have twined them in a crown. Ah me I 
How soon flowers die, and beauty fades like flowers 
Here in our hot, harsh air. How old are you ? 
I think you must have two years more than I, 
And I am withering while you bloom with youth. 


O Princess, you are like an opening rose. 


Study and care and weariness of life 

Have blanched the petals ere they broke in bloom ! 

But let me bring you to the Emperor, 

He waits to meet you in the inmost heart 

SCENE II. King Erik 141 

Of all our palace-corridors. His light 
Is hidden from sight by half a hundred walls, 
Lest it should blast the vulgar. But your eyes, 
Made bright with innate kingship, will not quail. 

\At a sign from the Princess who rises with Erik and 
BoTiLDA, her attendants and EriUs draw near, and the 
whole procession passes into the palace, Svanhilda loiters 
behind, and stands between two pillars of the gallery look- 
ing down the garden. The Boy, rousing himself and 
taking his lyre, sings, without seeing Svanhilda : — ] 

O short delight of life ! weep, wan eyes, 
For Time that knows not whither nor whence he flies ! 
Ah / while we batten, and our pulses creep. 
Given up to pleasure now, and now to sleep, 
The sudden years on swift precipitate wings. 
Plumed with all hopeless and all dolorous things, 
Hurl themselves on us ^ pass, and leave behijid 
Sheaves ofwa^te manhood barren as the wind. 

[Boy sits down again at the statues foot!\ 


The little wanton boy ! How sweet and sad 
His song was ! Though I know not half the words, 
I know that they were sad. Ah me ! ah me I 
Would that I knew how all these journeying days 

142 King Erik. ACT IV. 

Will end, and whether peace will come of them ! 
For now the passion of my life at home, 
And all the vain sweet waters of my hope, 
That turned so brackish, seem as strange and far 
As Roeskild with its myriad bubbling wells. 
I have a new thirst at my heart for peace, 
Rest of the spirit, g,nd if time brings us home, 
Some pure hushed nunnery where the heart is free^ 
Shall win my soul to silence. 

GiSLi {coming forward). 

Maiden, hail ! 
Art you not fresh from Denmark ? 


Yea ! And you 
A guardsman, by your silver mail, I know ! 
I am from Denmark. 


Chance you to have met 
A wandering skald, one Grimur ? 


Bright of eye, 
Fork-bearded, with a song upon his lips 
Alway, and underneath the song a jest ? 


Even so. 

SCENE II. King Erik, 143 


I know him. Is he kith of yours ? 


Nay. But where saw you him ? 


In Roeskild last. 


Lo ! I will tell you, maiden ! He and I 
Are foster-brothers. 


Here in Micklegarth, 
Pledged you firm friendship at the wine-cup's brim ? 


Nay, in the north, and in the best old way. 

Ah me ! I mind me of the very night ; 

'Twas summer, up in Jutland, by the sea. 

We met two days before, in drinking deep 

Within a salt-sea hostel by the sands. 

For mariners. I loved him from the first, 

And so the second midnight to the cliff 

We went. I mind me how the round moon rose, 

And how a great whale in the offing plunged. 

Dark on the golden circle. There we cut 

A space of turf, and lifted it, and ran 

Our knife-points sharp into our arms, and drew 

Blood that dripped into the warm mould and mixed. 

144 King Erik, ACT IV. 

So there under the turf our plighted faith 
Starts in the dew of grasses. 


Now, perchance 
The feathery pasture waxes brown and thin. 


\Vhat say you, maiden ? 


Has your heart and hand 
Been ever faithful to his absent cause ? 


Else may the good saints blast me. 


Well then, now 
Summon your patience till you hear the worst. 
You have no foster-brother. 


He is dead ? 
Well, well ! To every man that walks the earth, 
Soldier or skald, death comes at last. But he 
Was young and goodly, and a pleasant man 
For women. Well 1 so we shall meet no more, 
Nor laugh aloud, nor dip our mouths in drink 
For ever ! Dead ! Poor Grimur, cold and dead 1 
One thing is well, that in Roeskild he died. 
Said you not so ? 

SCENE II. King Erik. 145 


I might, for that is true. 


He always said himself that he should die 

A straw-death in his bed ! Ah ! many times 

IVe heard him say so laughing. By what death, — 

Fever or ague from the Danish flats, — 

Say, did he die ? 


By none of these, but slain. 


Slain ! By what man ? And for what cause ? And how ? 


Stabbed deep between the shoulders. 


By the saints ! 
That was no good death for a man to die. 
Say, had he time to turn, and send a knife 
Home to the coward's heart who slew him ? Quick I 
Tell me what end came of this stabbing work ? 


Nay, but he died, and did not strive to strike. 


Who killed him ? For what cause ? 


146 King Erik. ACT iv. 


As I have heard — 


In service of some woman ! Waste no breath 
To tell me that. But let me briefly hear 
His name who slew him. 


Wherefore would you know ? 


Lo ! think you not that I will go and thank 

This knave for doing such a gracious deed, 

And taking from the light the only man 

I loved, my own heart's brother ? Yea ! I swear 

That I will go and lie about his feet, 

Kissing the dust and them, and thank him so ! 

Or rather meet him wheresoever he goes, 

Eye against eye, and, plucking out my sword, 

Send out his ghost to meet with Grimur's ghost, 

Wandering in cold gray air. \Vho is the man ? 

Lives he ? 


Yea ! Are you pledged by any vow 
To slay him ? 


Yea ! by all the darkest oaths 
That bind the heart to service. 

SCENE II. King Erik. 147 


If you found 
It was some grave lord nigh about the king ? 


So would I seek and slay him. 


Though in no ill thought, 
But blindly, in a natural heat of blood, 
He thrust your foster-brother through, what then ? 


Then I would slay him. Let me know his name. 


Oh 1 I shall die ! Ah ! let me go in peace. 


Until you speak I will not let you go. 


St. Knud ! It is a man so near the throne, — 


Yet princes are but mortal. He shall die. 


He shall not, cannot ! Fool, it is the King, 
Erik, who slew your friend ! Oh, cruel world. 
My heart will break I 

\She runs out to the rig/it,] 
10 — 2 

148 King Erik, ACT iv. 

GISLI {feels his sword\ 

Steel, sharp must be your tongue, 
To plead against so great a king as this. 

\_Exit slowly to left.^ 

\The Boy rises ^ takes his lyre^ and sings again .•] 

Till winter rivets her bands, 

The river as long as it can 
Struggles, till, bound and pent. 

It yields to the curb of the frost ; 
So Fate takes hold with her hands 

Of the hope and desire of a man. 
And his will is shaken and spent. 

And his life thrown over and lost, 

[the curtain falls.] 

Scene III. 

The Lower Part of the Hippodrome, by the steps lecuiing 
down into the Imperial Gardens, Enter Gisli. 


Until this day I never feared to die 
Fighting a man, nor greatly cared to know 
If he or I should bite into the sod 
Dying, but now I have a thirst to live 

j[_^^_^ ^ — mm 

SCENE III. King Erik. 149 

Until the bright edge of this dear good sword 
Be reddened, and the red be turned to black, — ' 
If, ere I can be near him, all his lords 

Should ring him round and save him ! Yesternight 

I faltered in my purpose, chose to live 

Rather than, slaying, die ; I will not see 

The eyes of that lanthe any more, 

Lest her sweet breath bewitch me from my will, 

As yesternight ! but when the pioon was up, 

Sleep brought the dead man his desired revenge ; 

I thought he came and found me here ; and cursed 

My woman-wasted purposes, and scoffed 

To know me such a changeling. Fear me not, . 

Sad ghost ! Our blood upon that Danish moor 

Kindles to-night, and is a flame that scares 

The fisher toiling on the deep. I know 

Your buried heart is panting without cease. 

Till my revenge can soothe it. 

[Erik crosses the stage, and goes down into the Palace 

Ah ! who's that ? 
It is the King ! It is himself — alone. 
I have not ever seen his face so near. 
How nobly and how like a king he walks. 
Half as a god might ! Ah ! now he is past, 
And if I had but stept across his path 
And struck him, he were dead ere this, and I 

I50 King Erik. ACT iv. 

Free of my vow ! Lo ! there among the trees. 
Doubtless he lingers ! I might slay him still ; 
And yet I will not smite him in the dusk. 
So, like a coward, but in open day, 
Before the sun, and in the clear high air 
Purge him from slaughter. Ah ! how hard it is 
To summon strength of will to kill a king ! 
I would that Grimur had not met his bane 
From this one man of all men, robed about 
With majesty and honour. That I die 
I care not much, Jbut fear lest, ere I strike, 
Some godhead flash into my frenzied eyes. 
And break my vain endeavour. 

\Enter Svanhilda and Thorolf.] 


This is the man ! 


A guardsman of my troop \ 


Believe me, though I tell not all the tale, 

I know he has some scheme against the King, 

Speak to him wisely. 

\They advance to Gisll"] 


Gisli, from this maid 
I hear our good friend Grimur is no more. 

SCENE III. King Erik. 151 


*Tis too late now to drain the horns of mead 
, Over his grave. They tell me that the grass 
Is green and full of daisies where he lies ! 


I did not tell you so ! 


Ah ! did not you ? 
I must have dreamed it ! Be it so or not 
'Tis too late now to mourn him. When you spoke 
I had forgotten that my friend was dead. 


How so ? 


I thought that he was by my side, 
And talked with me. ■ 


So then your mind was set 
Firmly upon his memory ? 


Why, yes ! 
We were such loving brothers in days past. 
But now I put him out of mind, nor mourn ! 
All men must die. 


That's spoken like a man ! 

1 5 2 King Erik. ACT IV. 

Why fret about a parcel of grey bones 

That huddle with a little clinging dust 

Some feet below our footsteps ! Dead and gone 

Is buried and forgotten, so say I ! 

It glads me that we find such wholesome wit, 

Gisli, within you ; for I heard but now 

That when the sad news struck you first, you lost 

The balance of your temper, yea ! and vowed 

Revenge for Grimur's slaying. Was*t not so ? 


I knew not then who slew him. 


Yea ! you knew, 
I told you ere 1 left you. 


Still at first 
The ashes of my anger glowed blood-red, 
Forgetting that a king has power of death 
Over the best of common subject men ; 
But now I bow and leave it. 


That is wise, 
Be stedfast in that wisdom ; year by year 
We'll talk of Grimur as the months come round 
And bring the day he died on. 

[Exit Thorolf.] 

^ -— - mm — 

*• *' ' * ' I 

SCENE III. Kijtg Erik, 1 53 


What sharp pain 
Fits best a babbling woman whose light tongue 
Wrests men from their endeavour ? 


Are you wroth 
I told the captain half the words you said ? 
I knew not you would soften, and I feared 
Lest some dishonour to the King and you 
Might issue from your anger. 


Fool ! you feared ? 
Yea ! women are all fears, an aspen wood 
When the north-easter whistles ! Put off fear, 
It is a most uncomely robe, and trips 
The feet of him who wears it ! Fare you well ! [Exit. 


Gone, with a juggling word upon his lips ! 
I know not what grief may grow out of this, 
For though the man has gentler words to-night, 
I hold in memory how his eyes flashed out 
When first he heard that Grimur had been slain. 
If I but loved the Queen, — but — nay ! I'll wait. 
And watch this Gisli as he comes and goes. 


[Enter Erik and Botilda.] 

1 54 King Erik. ACT IV. 


Full night at last, and, see, the golden moon 
Just tips the topmost cypress-shoot, and glides 
Up, slowly up, to quench the zenith stars ! 


As you, my love, through changing wars and woes. 
Rise slowly towards the glorious end, and quench 
The sometime fame of past and present kings 
Blazing above them. 

' ERIK. 

All is silent here ! 
Was that bright spark a lamp behind the trees? 


Nay 1 but a firefly ! 


Here then let us stay. 
From pomp and all the formal rites that ring 
This weary-hearted Emperor, I fly 
To rest, though but a moment, sweet, with you. 


Else would they slay us with their gracious deeds. 
Starve us with jewels, strangle us with silks. 
Shoot us to death with sandal-wood 1 ah me ! 
When shall we fly away and be at peace. 
Turning our backs on all this glare and gold, 
Pilgrims once more, and journeying towards the East? 

SCENE III. King Erik. i S 5 


Botilda, do you mind the summer night 
When first we met at Mainz ? 


The river ran 
Shining beneath a golden moon Hke this, 
But through a fresher air. 


Ah ! sweet, to-night, 
I am too sad to think out all my thoughts ; 
I had willed to speak of certain things with you. 
But, if you pardon, I will rather lay i 

My head against your bosom and be still. 

BOTILDA {kisses htm). 
And I will pray above you while you sleep. 


Move your arm round me, let my throat lie thus 
Pressed by your fingers. I shall hardly sleep. 


To-morrow you have many things to do, 
First, lifted in a curule chair, you watch 
The petty warfare of the Hippodrome ; 
Next to an audience of the Emperor 
We hasten, perfumed, garlanded, and robed ; 
Next to this palace they have decked for us 
The learned Princess with the eternal tongue 
Comes for a long state visit. Best sleep now. 

156 King Erik. ACT IV. 


Love, if your fingers gripped me fast and tight, — 


They scarce would move you more than petals can 
The pavement that they fall on. 


Ah ! but say, 
I slept, and you, and some man came behind 
And drew a cord beneath your finger-tips 
Sharply, and fled, and left me cold for ever ! 


hideous thought ! It is not well to stay 
Here in strange gardens ; let us rise and go ! 


Nay, all is safe here, and we shall not sleep. 
Say, are you weary yet of ^licklegarth ? 


Oh ! weary to the heart. 


If I were dead 
Would this place seem the fairest left on earth. 
Would you come back here when the rites were done. 
To dream your life out slowly ? 


Nay, not here ! 

1 only just endure it all for you, 

SCENE III. King Erik. 157 

Since honour being done you in such wise 
It seems not gracious to be glad to go, 
Yet when you tell me that our stay is past, 
And that we leave the town at break of day 
1 shall be» happy. 

ERIK {rising). 

Oh how strange it is 
To feel the cold vicissitudes of life, 
Like currents in a river, whirl and clasp 
The unwilling soul, and wind it from its aim I 
Oh ! how I longed and how I long to live 

[ Walking tep and down.] 

How much of work is left for me undone, 
What love unloved, what errors unredeemed, 
What ghosts of wasted wishes unannealed, 
And how the invisible bands of coiling fate, 
Winding and winding round my limbs and soul, 
Frustrate my purposes and drug my hopes 
And almost slay my heart in me for grief ! 
Ah ! for a certain span of years of life 
What would I throw not of my pomp and power 
Like stubble to the furnace, to be free ! 


Yet had we all things that the heart desires, 
There still would be one yearning unallayed, 
One hope, one passion that no bhss could fill. 

IS8 King Erik. ACT IV. 


The spring-tide of my kingship blossomed well 
In the April light of youth, and, as I grew, 
A manlier purpose towards the heights of thought 
Shot through all deeds and wishes ; then there came 
One swift false step, one shuddering evil hour, 
And who shall tell me what the end will be ? 


How sad a place this is ! It taints our thoughts. 
I feel as though I should not start to see 
A choir of bone-white skeletons creep out 
From clusters of the cypress, and dance round. 
Playing on rebecks, while the grass grew gray. 
Erik, this silence makes you dream of death ; 
Heed not such portents. 


Nay ! I do not heed, 
But all day long I hear amid the crowds, 
Amid the light and fire 'of gold and wine, 
And through the tempests of the mad wild lyres, 
And under all the rose and myrtle-flowers, 
A voice that murmurs in a monotone, 
Strange, warning words that scarcely miss the ear. 
Yet miss it altogether. 

BOTILDA. r"'"! 

Oh ! God grant. 
You be not fey, nor truly near your end 1 

SCENE III. King Erik, 159 

Ah ! what a sharp sound has the name of death 
To one who lives on loving ! 


There below 
Our ships lie anchored in the Golden Horn ! 
Say, are you ready to step down and go 
Seawards to-night, and leave our palace here 
As suddenly as forefathers of mine 
Their homes, who went a-viking ? 


Yea 1 at once ! 
Give me one hour and I will gladly go, 
Pleased at however short a note to leave 
This gilded town for ever. 


Be it so ; 
The moon will set ; our folk lie all at hand ; 
I go to rouse them silently. My heart 
Springs into gladness at this new design, 
I shall not die but live ; yea I very soon 
We kneel together at the shrine, and then 
Back to our Denmark like a conquering host 
Our little band will hasten. Ah ! my queen, 
I never loved you as I love you now ! 


Not when I came to you at Kjoge first ? 

i6o King Erik. ACT IV. 


Ah ! then you were a child, a simple girl, 

Sweet as a flower with dew upon its leaves. 

Tender and breathless, innocent and frank ; 

I loved you for your fresh young heart, but now. 

Chastened and strengthened with the winds and fires 

Of sorrow and experience^ you stand 

Before me in your womanhood, and bow 

My soul to adoration ! Hush, dear heart \ 

Speak not, but let me gaze into your eyes. 

If now Death came behind us unaware. 

And took our breathing from us with no pain, 

I hardly think I should be sad to die. 

Love cannot reach a loftier height than this. 

Nor pure strong passion fuse the body and brain. 

Spirit and will, with more seraphic art 

Than now, and in this bosom. Love, my love, 

My only love, I shall not die but live, 

Live on through death, immortal in your love ! 





Scene I. 

The Quay at Baffa, in Cyprus, A crowd of persons 
hastening here and there. 


These be fine days for Baffa. 


Say not so ! 
The whole town's being is turned upsidedown, 
And walks, its feet in the air. 


Such stirring hours 
We meet not often in the months and years. 
Small blame to us if all men, young and old, 
Leave shop and stall to crowd here by the sea, 
And watch the blond barbarians. 

II -2 

164 King Erik. ACT V. 


Where's the King ? 


Ah ! neighbour, though you sneer at all the rest, 
Your tongue's your master stilL Why, Where's the King 7 
Is all the question Baffa asks to-day. 
I trow he must be near. 


Your pardon, friend, 
The King of Denmark is not here at all ; 
He's not yet landed. 


Hark you, neighbour, hait, 
This soldier tells us he's not here at all, 
Not landed. 


You are one of his array ? 


Yea, soldier of his guard, and left the port 
That hour the King did, but a gale arose, 
Scattering our ships to east and west of Rhodes, 
And brought me soonest hither. 


He will come ? 

SCENE I. King Erik. 165 


And shortly ; if I marked the pennon right. 
The bark that moored before the break of dawn, 
There in the offing, and now tacks to shore, 
Is his. 


Come, neighbour, hurry to the quay. 


Your pardon, friend ! we thank you ! Neighbour, come. 


[GiSLi passes to the back of the stage, 
[Enter Marcus and Tkora.] 


It cannot be. Yet all the good saints know 
'Twere well for us and Denmark if the King 
Touched not this island, but ere fall of day 
Went homeward straightway over the Greek sea. 


Then strain your throat to move his will with prayer, 

Meet him before the landing-place, and lay 

The burdens of the people at his feet. 

Bar him from Cyprus as a cliff would do, 

Kneel and not rise, be instant in design, 

Untired in execution ! Else I trow 

Our land will perish ere it sees its king. 

1 66 King Erik, ACT v. 


The times wax dark and desperate at home ; — 
But how to tell him all, and yet not vex 
His noble heart to anger ? 


It may chance, 
That weary of long exile, he'd be fain 
Of fair excuse to end it. 


Nay, not so ! 
I thought we should have found him joume)dng back. 
So many months have slipped away and died 
Since first he started. Then a word from me 
Had sent him hurrying homeward like the wind ; 
But first too Jong in Russia, then too long 
In Micklegarth he lingered, and not yet 
Has knelt at prayer within Jerusalem. ' 

Wherefore I know he will not choose to come. 


Yet should a people's agony outweigh 
The lightness of a vow. 


But not with him. 
This ardent, tender, swift, self-torturing man 
Strikes once in haste, and then is slow to strike ; 
Unreasoning in his impulse, and as firm 

SCENE I. King Erik. 167 

In purpose, when the purpose comes to birth, 
As rock beneath our footsteps. 

GiSLi {coming forward). 

By your leave 1 
Have you not Danish faces ? 


From Roeskild. 


I pray you pardon, Master, that I spoke, 

And crossed your speech the while, but as I passed 

I heard you talk of Denmark. 


It is well ! 
We are from Denmark, and have news from home 
As fresh as can be told you. Have you kith. 
Perchance, in Sjaelland ? 


Nay, Sir, but a friend. 
Whose fame, for his was higher rank than mine. 
Was not so small in Denmark. I would learn. 
If so you chance to know, where Grimur lies ; 
He was my friend, this Grimur, and is dead ! 


Oh ! what a name to greet our ears with here ! 

i68 King Erik. ACT v. 


Why 1 lady, 'tis a good name, and a true, 
And he was a brave man who bore that name ; 
You need not blame it 1 


Thora, do you mark 
This soldier is a guardsman of the Greeks, 
And has not heard the story. 


Speak na more. 


Nay, say no more to vex me ; I will go — 
And mar your peace no longer. Tell me first. 
For I perceive you know, where Grimur lies ; 
Since, look you. Sir, I loved him, and I fear 
Lest they have thrown him out into the field, • 
Or marred his body shamefiilly. At night 
I gnaw my heart to think so 1 


Be at peace. 
He lies beneath the pavement of the .porch 
At Roeskild, buried just within the church, 
Alone, and has no word graved on the stone. 
But when you go to Denmark, you may win 

SCENE I. King Erik. 169 

To write some scripture on the blank white slab, 
If so you plead for't humbly. 


When I go ? 
Yea, when I go, I'll do the thing you say. 
Ah ! when I go ! But for your gracious speech 
I thank you,' \Exit, 


There is sorrow in- those eyes I 


And some fell purpose in those lips and hands ! 
I fear that man, I know not why. Methought 
That I had seen him somewhere, and I fell 
A-trembling when he spoke, albeit his words 
Were gentler than his looks were. 


A tall man. 
Strong in his limbs ! 


But say, how comes he here ? 
A Dane in Baffa, and not one of us. 
Since Erik has not landed ? 


But more ships 
Than Erik's left the Golden Horn that night 

170 King Erik, ACT V. 

So much I learned at day-break ; yea ! a fleet, 

With guardsmen of the Vaeringar on board, 

Came with him, and their rank being struck with storm 

Was scattered in the Rhodian seas to meet 

In piecemeal here at Cyprus. 


Then with those 
Who came with us from home, and with the bands 
Already landed, and with those to land 
Soon with the King, the isle will swarm with Danes 
And know not its own people. 


Yea ! in truth 
And all be one to greet the King and strew 
His path with their devotion, till the air 
Becomes one rose whose every leaf will be 
A Danish face in rapture. 

\Enter citizens in confusion^ 


Stay here, and if you crane above the crowd 
You'll see him. 


Now the oars are all drawn in. 
It turns broadside and trembles to the quay. 


How slow it is ! There see, that tallest man 

SCENE I. King Erik. 171 

With silken hoscj and gold upon his coat 
Must be the King. 


Fool ! think you that's the King ? 
Why, that's the trumpeter. See, now he blows 
A clear alarum to the town, as though 
We needed waking. Put the brass away, 
Young man, we've all rubbed sleep out of our eyes ! 


See, there's the King now ! 


And the lady there 
That smiles to him, and reddens, that's the Queen. 


And he smiles too. Ah ! what a goodly man. 


Yet pale and wan, and older than I thought ; 
But what a sweet soft rosy thing is she ! 
Bloom of the oleander, that's most like 
Such cheeks as hers are. 


In the morning light 
Her red-gold hair is like — 

second citizen. 

And what a throat ! 

1/2 King Erik, ACT V. 

That shaft of marble tinted like a peach 
Within Our Lady's chapel shines the same ! 


We grow poetical ! Come down, my friend, 
And hurry round, and meet them in the town. 


Scene II. 

A terrace in front of the Castle of Baffa. Enter Erik, 
BoTiLDA, with many maidens and gentlemen. Enter on 
the other side Marcus, who kneels to the King and kisses 
his hand, 


Hail, Sire ! 


And welcome, good old friend, at last f 
We glanced among the faces red and brown, 
The tresses gold and ebon, Cypriotes, Danes, 
Fot these dear locks, now whiter than of old, 
These features so familiar, but in vain ! 
Yea ! Marcus, I am jealous of my Queen, 
Who §aw you sooner ! 


Yet I strove to come, 
But knowing little of the island-speech, 
And being caught within the tortuous mesh 

SCENE II. King Erik. 173 

Of these strange streets of Baflfa, lost my way, 
And was too late for sunrise. 


Ah ! the moon 
Has told the sun your zeal, and all that haste. 
But say, for now my heart is like a flame 
To hear it, how my kingdom fares at home ? 


Ask me not this, for hideous are the feet 

Of them that bring ill tidings. Ah, my liege, 

I will not with a little word or sigh 

Touch on the past, but with a resolute face 

Gaze on the coming sorrow in my speech. 

The commonwealth, that was so fair and strong, 

Grows weak and totters as a frail old man, 

Whose joints grow past their function ; him you left ' 

To guide the realm, our worthy Skjalm, is dead j 

And when Lord Knud came hastening from the court 

Of Duke Lothair in Saxony, he found 

Four other princes wrangling for your crown, 

Each calling you their only liege and head, 

And so we know not whom to serve. 


It seems 
A king is mor^ a father than men think, 
For if the king abide not in his realm 

174 King Erik, ACT V. 

Children and serving-men with little skill 
Do call their riot ruling. 


And the Wends 
Hearing that you, their terror and their bane, 
Had gone away to exile, have made bold 
To fall upon our coasts. The day I left. 
Men brought the news of how a score of maids 
Were caught in Falster, sporting on the sands, 
And borne away to slavery and shame. 


Hath God forgotten ? 


And your own wise laws, 
That held the people as a child is held 
Lest, witless, it should fall, in lapse of time 
These too have lost their vigilance and strength, 
And in a sensual trough of swinish deeds 
Men plunge and batten with a foul excess. 
Forgetting what they were and that chaste sword 
You wielded. 


. O that I had never left 
The helm of state, but through the driving night, 
While all is black except the sharp-shot foam, 
And not a star is shining but that one 
Of duty to my country and my God 

SCENE II. King Erik, 175 

Had kept the good ship steady. Ah, and now 
I long to have the wind between my lips, 
And under me the rocking, rushing State ! 
{To the Lords.) 
Shall we to Denmark 1 


Yea ! my lord, at once. 


Shall we return ? 


It must be as you will ; 
My heart, like yours, is yearning to be home, 
And yet — 


I would that you would tell me all. 


Nay, surely, it is best that we return. 


Ay, but not now ; for, lo ! when first I heard 
This tale of sorrow that our Marcus brings, 
My heart within me leaped with a great throb 
Of tender longing love towards this my child, 
Denmark, a weak child, prodigal and vain ; 
But now I mind me of our one design. 
And how the pressure of my holy vow 
Trammels my footsteps. 

176 King Erik. ACT V. 


Must it be your own ? 
Can you not send a ship, with priests and gifts, 
To Jaffa, and yourself set out for home ? 


If at the last, after so many- prayers, 
So many oaths to heaven and all the saints, 
So great desire, and such a constant heart, 
My soul could break its promises to God, 
Marcus, this hand, and this my royal will 
Would be things frailer than a smoking flax, 
More helpless than a bruised reed ; and now, 
1 will not waste another day, but start 
Straightway, nor cease from journeying until 
I pour my heart out on the mount of God. 


1 would not cross you, but your mind is mine. 


Yea ! and so steadfast am I, that if now 

Some grievous bolt out of the blue above 

Should strike you dead, yea, you ! yea, even you I 

I would not linger, but would haste away 

My broken heart and your untimely corse . 

And bury both in Olivet at last 


So then I yield ; but shifting in my suit 
Would pray you grant me leave to follow too. 

SCENE II. King Erik. 177 


Gladly : and with the fair winds' furtherance 
We soon shall be returning, calm at heart 
And with the wounded conscience washed in balm, 
The inward bleeding staunched. Now very soon 
The burden that has weighed my soul, and marred 
The well-springs of my youth with sad salt tears 
Remorseful, and that sorrow that has been 
So amorous of my spirit night and day, 
That ghosts in dreams have muttered jangling rhymes 
About it in my ears, and nighf s live eyes 
Writ it in damning star-fire round my walls, 
Shall all be past and gone and washed away, 
No more remembered than a curse inscribed 
On level sands at ebb, which next full flood 
Obliterates for ever ; yea ! and then. 
Made young anew, and strong and firee fh)m fate. 
My hand will grasp the helm, and steer once more. 
And break the wave and guide the bark to port 
EtUer GiSLi.] 


I fain would see the King. 


You cannot now. 

THORA (to Marcus). 
The guaxdsman with the hollow flaming eyes ! 


Nay, not the man we spake with ! 


178 King Erik. ACT V. 


Is't not he ? 
What will he with the King ? 


Believe me, maid, 
'Tis not the man we talked with yesterday, 
This is of merrier cheer. 


Where is the King ? 
I have a matter for the King to judge. ^ 


This is no place to plead a law-suit in. 
Go hence, and wait a more propitious hour. 


What is this hubbub ? 


It is naught, my lord, 
They send away a fellow that would vex 
Your leisure with his business. 


Lord the King, 
They thrust me from you ! 


Erik, but not now ! 

• ERIK. 

Vea, wherefore ? In a little time we start 

SCENE II. King Erik, 179 

For Palestine. 1*11 see the good man now. 
Yea I bring him here. 

\Ta GiSLi.] 

What would you of my grace ? 


Sire, I would have you judge a suit of blood. , 


Speak out 


I had a brother, that I loved, 
And lo i a man has slain him unawares^ 
In no fair fight, but thrust a dagger down 
Between his shoulders, and ho ill deed done, 
And he that rules our band in the Greek guard 
Will not that I revenge him. 


Unto me 
Revenge belongs. When I return in peace 
I will remember. 


Yea ! but he who smote 
Is no vile peasant but a lord of lands. * 


There is no difference made of rich or poor, 
Of jarl or peasant, where the judge is just, 

12 — a 

i8o King Erik. ACT V 

And guiltless blood in Denmark is not shed, 
Without full retribution. 


Ah, my lord, 
My ears wax glad to find you of such mind. 
Methought you would be swift with glosing words 
To cover up a mighty man's offence 
And prove it nothing. These your royal words ; 
A trumpeter should blow about the world 
Till all kings hear them. Just and righteous judge, 
I will await your verdict ; yet if chance 

\_Coming closer 

Should bring that man that stabbed my fiiend to death 

Before me, face to face, by noon or night, 

I fear I should not have the grace to stay 

Until our judge came homeward, but might hap 

To feel my veins boil up into such zeal 

As would not brook restraining, and my hands 

Strike suddenly and slay, as here, and now. 

[Strikes the King to the heart, 
Grimur, sleep well ! 


Ah ! let me feel your face 
Botilda ! Nay, I have no pain. Farewell. 

[BoTiLDA hends over him^ wailing.'] 

SCENE II. King Erik. i8i 

[Enter Svanhilda, hastily.'] 


He came this way ! He must not see the King ! 

[Rushes in,] 
Oh ! oh ! Too late ! too late ! ah ! woe is me ! 

[ While some of the lords attend to the King, others secure 


Yea I take and bind and tear him on the rack ! 
Let him not slip you ! 

GiSLi {breaking away). 

It was bravely done. 
For all your wit, ye cannot bring him back. 
Grimur is well avenged, and I may die. 

[Stabs himself and dies.']' 


Love, let me hold your hand till this is past. [Dies. 


The Queen will die, too. Thora,'hold her up. 
So ! lest her heart break. 


Nay, I shall not die, 
Not yet ; I pray you, Marcus, let the ships 

1 82 King Erik, ACT V, 

Be ready in the port at dawn of day, 
For lo ! the King and I are fain to come 
As swifUy as we may to Palestine, 
Where shortly ye shall leave us, for I know 
That after all the sorrow of our lives 
We shall not toil nor wander any more, 
But seek the sacred river and find rest. 



Uniform with the present volume, in cream and goldj 

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On Viol and flute. 







First, the beauty of form specially manifest in these Sonnets. It 
is not easy to praise too highly their careful structure, their music 

and colour Mr. G.*s sonnets are so much on a level of excellence 

that it is difficult to know which to select for quotation.... It would 
be scarcely possible to surpass this blending of the triumphant pas- 
sion of music with the colour and quiet of painting. Other sonnets, 
which it is a temptation to call masterpieces, are " Experience," 
"Perfume," "D.G.R.," and "Old Trees." ** Perfume," especi- 
ally, is worthy of one who loves sweet scents and can trace and ex- 
press their mystic "correspondences" with delicate emotions as 

subtly as Baudelaire. Mr. G.*s other Ijrrics have the interest of 

expressing a philosophy of life which is perhaps as useful as any 
other mental anodyne of our time. — Jan, 31, 1874. 


A volume of collected verses, many of which, e.g,y " Sunshine 
before Sunrise," and the series called "Fortimate Love,** are full 

of fancy and charm We shall be more hopefid of the future of 

the new school, if Mr. G. may be accepted as a representative 
spokesman. — l^cv, i, 1875. 


A collection of songs of a very superior order Mr. G. appears 

to us to possess most of the virtues and few of the vices of the fleshly 
school. His poems are essentially sweet ; delicate, yet sufficiently 
warm themes, set to most soothing melodies. He will some day 
do better than he has done here, which is equivalent to expressing a 
belief that he will do very admirably indeed. — yon, 24, I074. 


Seldom indeed do we find in the voluminous accessions to recent 
poetry the healthful and vigorous qualities which give to portions 
of this volume a character peculiarly their own. Mr. G. is already 

known as an authority upQn Northern literary subjects The 

power of bringing vividly before the mind reminiscences of the keen 
enjoyment of outward scenes has never been more highly manifested, 
to our thinking, than in Mr. G.'s poem entitled ** Lying in the 

Grass" Another equally perfect poem, is "Simshine before 

Simrise.'* They are two of the freshest and purest poems we have 

seen for many a day The long poem called ** The Mandrakes " 

is a truly masterly work of quite classical directness and intensity of 

expression The author has the very highest notions of what 

really great poetry should be. — Aug, 28, 1874. 


It is an unexpected treat, on taking up a volume of verse by an 
unknown writer, to find it contain such honeyed J l)nics, where sense 
is not subordinated to sound, nor meaning lost sight of in the search 
after that power of pictorial imagery in which the author delights 
and excels. — Jan, 4, 1874. 


Mr. G. is joyous, l3nical ; his muse is alive to the delights of 

flowers, music, sunshine and the song of birds In "Sunshine 

before Sunrise " the reader will be delighted with the spirit of pas- 
toral poetry and the purity of thought and tenderness The> 

most ambitious poem in this volume is entitled "The Mandrakes," 

and gives abundant proof of a vigorous fancy and fine imagining 

Mr. G., in taking leave of his readers, hopes they will not find his 
verses "harsh and slow." We can honestly say that they are quite 
the reverse. They abound with warm human S)rmpathies and evince 
genuine poetic power and feeling. They are full of grace, music, 
and sweetness. — March 12, 1874. 


Mr. G. has been with the Lotos-eaters, and his song has the 
graceful, murmuring sound which reminds one of the softness and 
deliciousness of summer-time...... A careful perusal of his verses 

will show, we think, that he is a poet He possesses in goodly 

measure the poetic insight which enables him to interpret nature in 
fresh aspects, and the faculty of poetic expression which finds utter- 
ance in musical verse Perhaps the most perfect poems are 

** Lying in the Grass," and ** Sunshine before Sunrise." — Jan. 3, 


The ** Mandrakes " has a weird solemnity and a terror almost 
Dante-esque. Some of the stanzas. . .have poetry enough for anything 
in them, and the impression produced by the entire poem is exceed- 
ingly powerful. Mr. G.'s volume will win him the appreciation of 
many lovers of poetry. — Dec, 21, 1873. 


The book which will excite most attention among poets and lovers 
of poetry is Mr. G.'s " On Viol and Flute." Since Rossetti's poems 

we have seen none so full of colour and melody Mr. G.'s poems 

are sure not to fall on rocky ground. He has by this one book alone 
won a high place among English poets. — Jan, i, 1874. 

Translated from the Norwegian. 

Mr. G., to whom we owe so many able articles on Norwegian 

literature, has just published a cycle of poems They form a 

Ivric^ symphony, each part of which seems to witness to a warm, 
aeep, emotional temperament, expressed in both powerful and 

beautiful forms We cannot doubt they will hold a place of 

honour in modern English literature Mr. G. treats of Norway 

and the North with the same delicate and just appreciation. — Dec. 
19, 1873. 

From the Danish of Dr, C, Rosenberg. 

Original in the best sense of the word, the products of a strong 

and deep communion with nature This successful blending of 

the spiritual and material we regard as a characteristic feature of 

Mr. G.'s poems We need scarcely suggest to the careful readers 

of Mr. G.*s poems that this keen appreciation of nature is not due 
to mere exuberance of youthful susceptibility, for all who have given 
him their s)rmpathetic attention will have discovered that beneath 
the warm, ever-changing lights of the surface underlie the experience, 
the thought, the doubts and the burdens that belong to the life of 
the scholar and the thinker. — March 11, 1874. 


In preparation. 







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IN GOD'S WAY. From the Norwegian of BjOrnstjerne 
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PIERRE AND JEAN. From the French of GUY DE Mau- 

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THE CHIEF JUSTICE. From the German of Karl Emil 

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New Review. — " Few novels of recent times have a more sustained and 
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Russian of Count Leo Tolstoy. 
Manchester Guardian, — " Readable and well translated : full of high and 
poble feeling." 

FANTASY. From the Italian of Matilde Serao. 

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FROTH. From the Spanish of Don Armando Palacio- 


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FOOTSTEPS OF FATE. From the Dutch of Louis 


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PEPITA JIMENEZ. From the Spanish of JUAN Valera. 

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of **A Marked Man." 

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" The Lawton Girl," " Seth's Brother's Wife," &c. With Illustrations. 

PRETTY MISS SMITH. By Florence Warden, Author 

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County of Lincoln. By Adeline Sergeant, Author of " No Saint," &c. 

NOR WIFE, NOR MAID. By Mrs. Hungerford, Author 
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Wooing O't," &c. 

DAUGHTERS OF MEN. By Hannah Lynch, Author of 

" The Prince of the Glades," &c. 


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'TWEEN SNOW AND FIRE. A Tale of the Kafir War of 
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popular 36* 0&. Tlovels^ 

Stuart Phelps and Herbert D. Ward. 

THE HEAD OF THE FIRM. By Mrs. Riddell, Author 
of *' George Geith," " Maxwell Drcwett," &c. 

ACCORDING TO ST. JOHN. By Am^lie Rives, Author 

of '• The Quick or the Dead." 

KITTY'S FATHER. By Frank Barrett, Author of 

"The Admirable Lady Biddy Fane," &c. 

DONALD MARCY. By Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, 

Author of "The Gates Ajar," &c. 

PERCHANCE TO DREAM, and other Stories. By Mar- 
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THE AVERAGE WOMAN. By Wolcott Balestier. 

With an Introduction by Henry James. 

THE ATTACK ON THE MILL, and other Sketches 

of War. By Emile Zola. With an essay on the short stories of M. 
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WRECKAGE, and other Stories. By Hubert Crackan- 


MADEMOISELLE MISS, and other Stories. By Henry 

Harland, Author of " Mea Culpa," &c. 

TRUE RICHES. By Francois Cop^]fiE. With an Intro- 
duction by T. P. O'Connor. 

H. D. LowRV. 

LOS CERRITOS. A Romance of the Modem Time. By 
Gertrude Franklin Atherton, Author of "Hermia Suydam," and 
'* What Dreams may Come." 

A MODERN MARRIAGE. By the Marquise Clara Lanza. 

popular SbilUng JSoofts* 

MADAME VALERIE. By F. C. Philips, Author of "As 

in a Looking-Glass," &c. 

THE MOMENT AFTER: A Tale of the Unseen. By 
Robert Buchanan. 

CLUES ; or, Leaves from a Chief Constable's Note-Book. 

By William Henderson, Chief Constable of Edinburgh. 


H)ramatic Xiterature^ 

THE MASTER BUILDER. A Play in Three Acts. By 
- Henrik Ibsen. Translated from the Norwegian by Edmund Gosse 
and William Archer. Small 4to, with Portrait, 5^. Popular Edition, 
paper, \s. Also a Limited Large Paper Edition, a if. net. 

HEDDA GABLER : A Drama in Four Acts. By Henrik 
Ibsen. Translated from the Norwegian by Edmund Gosse. Small 410, 
cloth, with Portrait, 5r. Vaudeville Edition, paper, xx. Also a Limited 
Large Paper Edition, 2 if. net. 

(Translated by Qcrard Harry), and THE INTRUDER: A Drama in 
One Act. By Maurice Maeterlinck. With an Introduction by Hall 
Caine, and a Portrait of the Author. Small 4to, cloth, 5^. 

Four Acts. By Count Lyof Tolstoy. Translated from the Russian by 
E. J. Dillon. With Introduction by A. W. Pinero. Small 4to, with 
Portrait, 5* . 

THE DRAMA, ADDRESSES. By Henry Irving. 8vo. 

With Portrait by J. McN, Whistler. Second Edition. Fcap. 3*. &/. 


Modem Stage. An Address delivered to the Playgoers' Club at St. 
James's Hall, on Sunday. 6th December, 1891. By Herbert Beerbohm 
Tree. Crown 8vo, sewed, td. 

ductory Notes by Malcolm C. Salaman. i6mo, Paper Covers, ix. M. 
or Cloth, 2x. ()d. each. 

I. THE TIMES: A Comedy in Four Acts. With a Preface 
by the Author. 

ir. THE PROFLIGATE: A Play in Four Acts. With 

Portrait of the Author, after J. Mordecai. 

IV. THE HOBBY HORSE : A Comedy in Three Acts. 
V. LADY BOUNTIFUL : A Play in Four Acts. 
VL THE MAGISTRATE : A Farce in Three Acts. 
VII. DANDY DICK : A Farce in Three Acts. 

To be followed by The Schoolmistress, The Weaker Sex, Lords and 

Commons, and The Squire.